The family of a North Korean defector have urged him to return home, an emotionally charged video published by the Pyongyang-affiliated Uriminzokkiri propaganda outlet showed on Thursday.
The video, which shows the visibly upset family of Lee Yong Chul speaking to Lee and praising North Korea’s ruling party, suggests all will be forgiven if he returns.
“Even though you betrayed us, the party educated your children without discrimination, taking care of them. How can you betray your nation?” one of Lee’s children said.
“I hope to continue our happy life after you come back, clearing your sin,” his wife said.
While previous state media videos focusing on defectors have included allegations of their crimes, there was no mention of this aspect in regard to Lee.
Instead, the video heavily focuses on dramatic details of the family’s life, suffering and pain – all supposedly caused by Lee’s absence, in what appears to be a concerted effort to appeal emotionally to the defector.
“Your mom passed away because of you. She criticized herself because of you, for having a betraying son. Your mom called your name before you died,” his older sister said.
“It is psychological war targeting defectors under economic hardship in South Korea. I think North Korea is aiming at disturbing defectors’ society,” Myeong Chul Ahn, a North Korean defector and executive director of NK Watch, told NK News.
Similar videos published on Uriminzokkiri in the past have targeted high-profile defectors such as Yeonmi Park and Shin Dong-hyuk in an effort to undermine their testimony of human rights abuses in the country.
However, the Uriminzokkiri videos focusing on Shin and Yeonmi were produced in large part because of their significant international media profiles, which Lee does not appear to have.
“Lee Yong Chul is not a famous defector and I guess North Korea wants to attract defectors back to North Korea by saying they will be forgiven,” Ahn told NK News.
The videos focusing on Shin and Park also featured members of their families.
Featured Image: Uriminzokkiri
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