In the recent defection of an elite North Korean politician, Tae Young Ho, to South Korea, there is a dearth of guarantee that the North Korean government to remain stable. Minister Tae of North Korean Embassy in London seeking asylum has already been a pronounced fact among his few acquaintances. When minister Tae met BBC correspondent in Seoul, he had asked about the life in Seoul, South Korea, exposing his interest towards moving to a third country. Although his term was about to end this summer and was planning to go back to North Korea, he prioritized the education of his children and his desire towards freedom and democracy. His decision sets its origin on the great economic burden on himself and his family.
According to a research paper “Commentary on North Korean Study” by Korea’s National Intelligence Service, it has been shown that North Korean diplomats are going through a hard time, by being paid between 700 and 800 US dollars for a monthly salary. Despite this monthly pay, expediency fund or monetary support for diplomats and their families other than official salary do not exist. This would be the fundamental reason of North Korean elites in a foreign country withdrawing North Korean nationality.
Not only Minister Tae, but three more North Korean citizens have escaped the country in the beginning of 2016. This defection is itself a reflection of the terrified North Korea, where the one and only tyrant has an ultimate power and control over the rest of the country. Defection of North Koreans, however, is not limited to aristocratic people, but rather is dissolving into the public.
The North is once again facing economic challenges like it did 20 years ago. The country consistently marked a minus value for the growth rate and this rate plunged, especiallly in the food production statistics and agriculture. Moreover, the trade sanctions is slowly penetrating the lives of civilians. Along with this, the value of mineral resources started declining sharply, and therefore was not able to export enough to earn a living for the country.
The profiles of defectors began diversifying in 2010 as it ranged from diplomats and soldiers to artists and athletes. Although North Korea regards these refugees as notorious criminals, desire of these people are not evading the pathway to freedom. A few refugees actively take part in a joint panel to share their journey in search of mental and physical freedom. In addition to the refugees’ effort to seek their own freedom, the South Korean government is consistently striving to cooperate with those refugees.
There are quite a plenty of non-profit organizations willing to achieve, step by step, liberty in North Korea. LiNK, or Liberty in North Korea, is a well known NGO that rescues North Korean refugees without cost or condition by steadily garnering information about escape routes through China and Southeast Asia. These organizations are extremely pivotal to gain freedom among North Koreans and the repressive regimes around the world as a whole since international attention has focused on nuclear weapons and the Kim family when a quarter of children in North Korea are chronically malnourished. It is inevitable that the totalitarian North Korean regime will collapse within a short period of time, but the world’s goal, consisted of nations supporting democracy, is to accelerate that transformation for the innocent people in North Korea.
Written by DaEun Lee