August 27, 2014 11:39
North Koreans have sent money to a family of defectors in South Korea in the first reported case of its kind.
Specialist website the Daily NK on Tuesday cited sources in the North as saying two sisters who sell Korean and Japanese-made home appliances in a market in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province, wired money to their youngest sister, who defected to South Korea but is having a tough time making ends meet.
It is common for many of the 27,000 North Korean defectors in South Korea to send money to their families in the North, but this is apparently the first time the opposite has happened.
The two sisters, who were raised in Japan, had apparently done well enough from their business to save W280 million and 165 million each (US$1=W1,017).
The case confirms that a growing number of North Koreans are becoming wealthy by selling goods in open-air markets.
The woman, who defected to South Korea two years ago after trading in black-market Chinese goods, reached out to her sisters when she had a tough time adjusting to life in the South. The two sisters have sent W6.6 million in four installments since last year.
One source said people in the market in Chongjin where the two sisters work were apparently surprised to learn that a defector was experiencing financial problems, contrary to popular belief that defecting to the more affluent South would guarantee financial security.
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