January 28, 2020

About the author

Tae-il Shim

Tae-il Shim is a pseudonym for a North Korean defector writer. He left the DPRK in 2018, and now resides in South Korea.

More articles by 'Tae-il Shim'

Ask a North Korean: what was life like on the construction sites at Samjiyon?

"It keeps me up at night when I think about those hungry children struggling in the cold"

Tae-il Shim January 20, 2020

Ask a North Korean: what does the leader's New Year's speech mean to you?

"No North Korean is looking forward to the New Year’s speech"

In-hua Kim | Tae-il Shim January 3, 2020

Ask a North Korean: why do people decide to leave North Korea?

"The majority of those that decide to leave do so because they're disenchanted by the current political situation"

Tae-il Shim December 16, 2019

Ask a North Korean: how do North Koreans prepare for war and natural disasters?

"When it comes to war-related threats, the DPRK is equipped with an anti-U.S.-terrorism strategy"

Tae-il Shim November 21, 2019

Ask a North Korean: How much do Pyongyangites know about the outside world?

"People from outside of Pyongyang, at least those in my hometown, are often more up-to-date on outside news"

Tae-il Shim November 5, 2019

Ask a North Korean: how has drug culture evolved in North Korea?

"Many are driving themselves into ruin for a momentary escape from their depressing reality"

Tae-il Shim October 16, 2019

Ask a North Korean: What impact do defectors have on North Korean society?

"The families and relatives of defectors, who were once despised, are now admired"

Tae-il Shim October 1, 2019

Ask a North Korean: What is the 'songbun' system like under Kim Jong Un?

"The songbun system exists in name only for many"

Tae-il Shim September 5, 2019

Ask a North Korean: smuggling goods and helping escapees across the Yalu River

"God, please help me live. Help me not get washed away by the force of the current...."

Tae-il Shim August 21, 2019

Ask a North Korean: introducing the "Smuggler Kingpin" of Hyesan

The story of our second new contributor, from starving taekwondo teacher to TV smuggler

Tae-il Shim August 2, 2019