October 01, 2023

Why overseas work leads some North Koreans to defection

Those that actually do well abroad are lucky - many choose to instead seek wealth in the South

Every year thousands of North Koreans go overseas to work for what is seen in their destination countries as obscenely low pay. It does not sound like an attractive option, but many see it as the only chance to escape poverty and move up the social ladder at home.

The lasting popularity of overseas work, usually obtainable only through bribery, is largely due to the fact that a significant number of them succeed, come back home with money, and are seen by neighbors and friends as the embodiment of success.