December 07, 2023

Book review: ‘Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea’

Markus Bell writes a sobering reflection on the tens of thousands of Koreans that voluntarily left Japan for North Korea

Many are familiar with stories of North Koreans who risk their lives to escape their home country, but lesser known are the tens of thousands of people that immigrated to the DPRK from Japan, lured by promises of community and equality.

Facing discrimination and low social status in post-war Japanese society, some 93,000 ethnic Koreans voluntarily left for North Korea between 1959 to 1984. Upon arrival, most were shocked to see just how much North Korea’s communist poverty contrasted with the first world liberal democracy they had just left.