March 10, 2015 08:22
A growing number of North Korean defectors return to their repressive home country or move to China as they find it difficult to adjust to life in the capitalist South.
According to the Unification Ministry, only one defector returned to the North in 2000, but that increased to seven in 2012 and six in 2013.
There is no accurate estimate of the number of defectors with South Korean passports who are drifting from one country to another, but many are believed to be engaged in business with the North in China or working as brokers to get other North Koreans out of the reclusive state.
A government official here said, "Hundreds of North Korean defectors have disappeared from the radar after arriving in the South. Most of them probably left South Korea in search of work after failing to adjust to life here."
Park In-sook, a defector who came here in 2006 only to return to the North six years later, told reporters in Pyongyang in June that year that South Korea suffers from "rampant unemployment, and money rules supreme." She added, "There is no trace of humanity left."
It is not clear whether she made the statement voluntarily, but she apparently returned to the North under pressure from Pyongyang, where her son was practically being held hostage.
But many defectors admit they empathize with Park's sentiment. Another defector said, "Competition is too intense in the South. Even though we were hungry and there was no freedom, I longed at times for a life where there is no competition."
Other defectors are seeking asylum in Europe by hiding the fact that they already defected to South Korea.
According to the Foreign Ministry, 112 defectors sought asylum in Belgium, the U.K., Denmark and the Netherlands over the past five years.
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