Any account of the flood of North Korean refugees must start with the 1990s famine. It was then that the hungry and malnourished started to spill over the border into China and Russia in their thousands. North Korean soldiers effectively gave up on the border and instead discovered a way to make money from selling women to Chinese brokers or trafficking made-in-North Korea drugs.
The North Korean Navy and a broker sold us recreational drugs. The riskier the business, the more lucrative, and the deliveries went on day and night. One solider we met at the border told us, "I'll do whatever it takes to earn U.S. dollars."
By Park Jong-in, Lee Hark-joon