NK News reports on a young family who have ‘re-defected’ from South to North Korea, a move that has been played up greatly in the DPRK media. Pyongyang claims that nearly 100 people have returned to North Korea in recent months.
At a press conference on Thursday, Kim Kwang Hyok talked about his time in South Korea to prove how defectors from the north can not succeed there, underscoring how North Koreans are “snubbed and disdained (sic) everywhere they went.” At the conference his wife [Ko] reportedly said that she would like to tell those who were taken to the south “to come to their senses and break with cursed south Korean society and come back to the DPRK without hesitation”. She also added that going back to North Korea was the “only way of finding dignity and genuine life.”
Other defectors have called bullshit on this statement, pointing to threats made against the couples’ families as the true reason for their return.
One theory relates to blackmail by the North Korean government. Back in June a 66 year old woman named Pak Jong Suk gave a press conference in Pyongyang to explain her re-defection, underscoring that she had been “stunned” by the cordial reception and benevolence of Kim Jong Un bestowed upon. However, a report by The Washington Post soon emerged suggesting that the real reason she returned was out of worry that her son, a violinist in his 30s, was being punished for her defection.
Defectors have found live in South Korea hard in the past, an International Crisis Group report found that they are generally “sicker and poorer than their Southern brethren, with significantly worse histories of nutrition and medical care.” However, given the utterly appalling state of affairs North of the DMZ, it is hard to believe that anyone would rather live under the constant fear of arrest and torture in the DPRK unless they were forced to by blackmail.