Two North Korean families, who crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea on a small fishing boat on the night of the 6th and defected, felt fed up with the increased economic difficulties under the Kim Jong-un regime and the strengthened surveillance and control of residents due to the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19) and decided to defect . It was confirmed that he testified that
According to Dong-A Ilbo’s coverage on the 18th, during the joint interrogation of the relevant authorities such as the military, the National Intelligence Service, and the Ministry of Unification right after their defection, they said, “Can you really earn as much money as you worked in South Korea?” “Can you really live freely here?” It is said that he actively asked about it. A government source said, “They wanted to reaffirm that they were right in their decision to risk their lives and risk their lives by relying on a wooden boat with their young children.” The two families are known to have departed from Gangryeong, Hwanghae Province, with a total of nine members. There was also talk of in-laws.
They said that they admired Korean society while secretly watching Korean broadcasts. He is also known to have stated that he had made his decision to defect and forced his defection after several months of meticulous preparation. Regarding this, some analyze that the living conditions such as the food shortage in North Korea are serious enough to threaten the survival of the people. In a situation where North Korea has not lifted the strict border blockade due to Corona 19, the fact that he risked his life to escape North Korea after long preparations through this shows how difficult the situation in North Korea is. It is also analyzed that factors such as the blockade of the North Korea-China border due to Corona 19 and the sharp increase in the cost of defecting from North Korea were the reason why the two families chose to defect by sea, coming directly to South Korea via the West Sea, despite North Korea’s strengthened crackdown on the regime and strict surveillance and control. comes out
Another source said, “Unlike the previous administration, the tone that emphasized the resolution of North Korean human rights after the launch of the Yoon Seok-yeol government also seems to have influenced the decision to defect.” It is explained that the government may have decided that the government would not repatriate defectors to North Korea after learning about the current government’s North Korea policy through a Korean broadcast.
“I yearn for secretly watching Korean broadcasts… Can Nam-seon really earn as much as he worked for?”
After eating government-provided food, some of my family members
“diarrhea from greasy food that I have never seen on my hometown ship”
“Can I really live freely here?”
From catching North Korean fishing boats to securing recruits… Real-time reporting to the military and the presidential office
Two North Korean families who crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea on the night of the 6th and made a ‘sea defection’ are known to have told South Korean government authorities that they risked their lives to defect after more than a month of careful preparation . It is said that the wooden boat was remodeled to avoid the strict surveillance of the North Korean authorities and the specific time and route of defection were checked. As for the reason they prepared for North Korea by sea for a long time, it is reported that they could no longer withstand the worsening economic difficulties under the Kim Jong-un regime and the strengthened social control and surveillance due to the new coronavirus infection (Corona 19).
Some of them said that after eating the food provided by the government during the joint interrogation process, they said, “I keep getting diarrhea because there is a lot of greasy food that I can’t find in my hometown.” That is why the food crisis in North Korea is at a serious level. They are also known to have stated that they have longed for a Korea where the freedom of residents is guaranteed and they can receive fair wages for their labor after learning about the freedom of Korean society and the prosperous economy through Korean broadcasting that they secretly watched.
● “Can you really live freely here?”
According to Dong-A Ilbo coverage on the 18th, North Koreans who defected asked the Hapdong Newspaper investigators questions about the reality of South Korean society, such as “Can you really earn as much money as you worked in South Korea?” and “Can you really live freely here?” is known to have been poured out. The two families are said to have nine members in total. There was also talk of in-laws. It is the first case in about six years since July 2017, and the first case since the launch of the Yoon Seok-yeol government, that a family member crossed the NLL on a fishing boat and defected. It is said that they expressed their intention to defect as soon as they saw our military after
departing Gangryeong, Hwanghae Province on a small wooden boat and crossing the NLL in the West Sea. They are currently staying at a government facility in Gyeonggi-do and are being investigated by joint interrogation by related authorities such as the military, intelligence agencies, and the Ministry of Unification. A government source said, “ After securing new recruits on the NLL in the West Sea, right after landing on land, everyone was clearly exhausted and extremely anxious, but now they are being investigated in a calm state.” “Most of them are in good health.” They say that throughout the investigation, they emphasized that they defected from North Korea because they felt irritated by the worsening economic difficulties under the Kim Jong-un regime and the prolonged surveillance and control of residents, which were strengthened for the reason of COVID-19 quarantine.
It has not been confirmed which channel and method they watched Korean broadcasts. There is a possibility that they came across Korean dramas or news broadcasts through a portable storage device ( USB memory) that flowed into North Korea along with the North Korean leaflet through the North Korea-China border or the armistice line .
● Real-time reporting to the President’s Office from the detection of fishing boats
In the process of defection of North Koreans, the military conducted an operation to induce defection while strengthening alertness in case of emergency. The entire operation process , from the moment the fishing boat was initially detected by residents in the northern waters of the West Sea NLL with night surveillance equipment to the crossing of the West Sea NLL and the securing of new recruits on the morning of the 7th, was reported in real time to the presidential office through the military command. A government source said, “We made every effort to prepare for the possibility of an armed conflict with the South Korean military or the possibility of defection being canceled due to detection by North Korean patrol boats.” However, it is said that there was no unusual movement by the North Korean army at the time of the operation to induce defection.
On the 18th, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) announced its position, “There are facts of recent defection by North Koreans, but we cannot confirm details as a joint intelligence investigation is underway.” Another source said안전놀이터, “According to the investigation so far, it has not been confirmed that the defectors are suspected of being anti-communist forces.” Government authorities are said to have set a policy of not disclosing specific identities and defection routes in consideration of exposing the identities of defectors and the safety of family members left behind in the North.
● “Watch out for the possibility of North Korean residents leaving the group”
“Especially (in North Korea), food shortages and fertilizer shortages are serious. It is a serious sign that people starve to death even in cities.” A government source said this in a phone call with the Dong-A Ilbo on the 18th. “Even if this situation continues for a few months, it could lead to mass exodus of residents,” said the source. “We are closely monitoring trends in the border area.”
North Korea’s border closure, which began in the wake of Corona 19, has continued for over three years. North Korea closed its borders in January 2020, and in October of that year, it effectively closed its overland trade channels with China. Although some cargo vehicle transport between North Korea and China resumed earlier this year, it is still less than one-tenth of the level of pre-COVID-19 trade. Another source predicted, “Unlike other countries that have entered the ‘post-corona’ stage, there is still a fear of corona in North Korea.”
The food crisis in North Korea is said to have become more serious as a result of last year’s drought followed by torrential rains. Some analyze that grain yields in major grain belts are less than two-thirds of the previous year. In addition, North Korea started planting wheat in earnest last year, but it is said that even the wheat farming did not work properly, exacerbating the food crisis.
Even the food received through external aid is distributed only to the privileged class in Pyongyang, and dissatisfaction among residents, especially in the provinces, is growing. A government official said, “It’s easier to get outside news through the shadows than in the past.”