Seven out of 10 North Koreans who defected to South Korea are from North Hamgyong Province on the border with China, or 13,583 of over 20,000 people. Yet only 2.9 percent come from North Pyongan Province, which also borders China.
The stark contrast has something to do with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's paranoia. "Security is tight at the border near Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province, where Kim's armored train passes through, but relatively loose in North Hamgyong Province," said Lee Young-hwan of activist group Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.
Women make up 68.8 percent of North Korean defectors in the South. "From the 2000s, the Chinese government carried out massive raids on places like logging camps where men who escaped from North Korea used to hide, but women remained invisible because they worked as maids or prostitutes," a defector said.