A North Korean defector who recently returned to the DPRK appeared in a video released by the state-run Uriminzokkiri on Thursday, describing her “painful” life for six years in the South.
In the video, 60-year-old Ju Ok Soon says she entered North Korea via China after leaving the South in July, but does not say when she first defected.
A spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) told NK News that the government was aware of her return to the DPRK.
“The defector left for China this July. But [the government agency] lost contact with her since her departure,” an official at the unification ministry – who wished to remain anonymous – said.
“Relevant organizations have been investigating the details on her return to North Korea.”
In the video, which is unlikely to be broadcast to a domestic audience in the North, Ju says that her brother had convinced her to come to the South.
She was previously told that he had died in 2008, but spoke to him over the phone in 2011 while visiting relatives in China and discovered he had defected several years prior.
Ju’s interview is similar to other testimonies of defectors who have returned to the North, claiming she spent “painful days which can’t really express in words,” and tearfully describing South Korea as a “living hell.”
In interview with Uriminzokkiri, Ju describes South Korea as “rotten”
Unable to find work as a doctor, despite being qualified, Ju says she worked as a day laborer and as a carer, saying patients had treated her like “a tool which can speak.”
“No one hires defectors,” she adds. “Unless [women] sell her body for money… they can’t survive.”
“The only way that North Korean defectors in South Korea can choose is to turn to crime,” she says, adding that defectors engage in drug smuggling and violent crime to earn money.
She quickly became determined to “to go back to my fatherland.”
“I had a plan to escape… I didn’t want to live in rotten South Korea anymore…”
She now reportedly resides in her hometown in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province.
So-called “re-defectors” occasionally appear in DPRK state media. Jon Hye Song, a former star of defector-themed TV programs in the South, featured several times in Uriminzokkiri broadcasts in July and August.
Jon, who was known as Lim Jin-hyun in the South, reportedly defected in January 2014 and returned to the DPRK in June 2017.
In comments similar to those made by Jon, Ju in Thursday’s interview criticizes several high-profile defectors, including her nieces, for appearing on the “Now on my way to meet you” TV show, which features escapees discussing their lives in the North.
In mid-September Deputy National Assembly Speaker Park Joo-sun told press that the whereabouts of 886 defectors in the South remained unknown, as they had failed to register their addresses with the government.
The statistics, which were released by the unification ministry in tandem with the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), showed that some defectors had left the South and that their whereabouts were unknown.
In the aftermath of three re-defectors appearing on North Korean propaganda outlets in November last year, an MOU official told NK News that the ministry estimated there were between 16 and 19 in the DPRK.
Preliminary statistics released by the MOU last month showed that 780 North Koreans fled to South Korea between January and the end of August this year, bringing the total number of defectors in the Republic of Korea to 30,992.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Uriminzokkiri
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 589 words of this article.