January 27, 2022

Photos document North Korean defectors’ struggle to forge a new life

A new photo book called "Unperson" explores the lives and memories of North Korean escapees now living in the South

To date, more than 33,000 North Korean defectors have arrived to South Korea, and their experiences range from being utterly invisible to simply struggling to blend in. 

Photojournalist Tim Franco’s new book, “Unperson,” documents the lives of 15 defectors who left the DPRK and took a harrowing route through Asia in pursuit of another life. The book retells their stories through portrait photographs, diverse landscape shots and in-depth interviews, where defectors told Franco about everything from dating as a defector in South Korea to the hardships of pursuing a career in a competitive, capitalist society.