February 05, 2023
Columns

Remembering the Chinese samaritans who helped North Korean defectors in need

Some locals in China have gone out of their way to feed, shelter and protect DPRK refugees fleeing their homeland

In recent years, the road that North Koreans must follow to escape their home country and reach the South has become increasingly difficult and dangerous. Not only has the DPRK cracked down on cross-border movement during the pandemic, but the Chinese government has imposed its own COVID-19 movement controls and continues to detain defectors. 

Indeed, North Koreans have faced significant difficulties while living in or escaping through China ever since the number of defectors began to swell during the famine years of the 1990s. Viewed as illegal migrants rather than refugees, North Koreans faced deportation in China and were often taken advantage of.