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Dublin: 20 °C Thursday 28 May, 2020

After six years in the South, refugee defects BACK to North Korea

Pak Jong-Suk said immigrants to the South were given “hateful and deceitful” menial work – so she went home again.

Pak Jong-Suk:
Pak Jong-Suk: "I deserve punishment. But Kim Jong-Un did not blame me but was so kind as to enable me to enjoy the greatest happiness."
Image: Kim Kwang Hyon/AP

A FEMALE REFUGEE has defected back to North Korea after living six years in South Korea, Seoul officials confirmed today after she gave a rare press conference in Pyongyang.

The North’s state media yesterdaycarried an interview with Pak Jong-Suk, who was said to have returned to Pyongyang last month after leading “a life little short of a miserable slave’s for want of money” in the South.

She claimed she was lured by South Korean intelligence agents to defect in 2006.

The South’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, confirmed Pak had lived at a rented apartment provided by the government and a monthly financial subsidy since she arrived alone in Seoul in 2006.

More than 23,500 refugees have settled in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War but the ministry said only a very small number of them have returned to the North.

At the news conference in Pyongyang, Pak claimed refugees in the South were given “most hateful and difficult jobs” such as clearing garbage and washing dishes.

“They ardently wish to return to the DPRK [North Korea], cursing corrupt South Korean society and reproaching themselves,” she was quoted as saying.

Pak said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un showed “profound loving care” and allowed her to reside in Pyongyang with her son and daughter-in-law.

“I deserve punishment. But Kim Jong-Un did not blame me but was so kind as to enable me to enjoy the greatest happiness,” she said.

The North customarily describes defectors to the South as “human scum” who betrayed their country.

Virtually all those fleeing hunger or repression in the North cross the border to China, which considers them illegal job-seekers and repatriates those whom it catches.

Those who make it from China to South Korea often travel indirectly via south-east Asian nations.

- © AFP, 2012

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