[imText1]Japanese media are releasing the details of 4 North Korean defectors who arrived at the port of Fukaura in Aomori Prefecture on June 2nd.
The defectors now under the protection of the police of Aomori Prefecture are a family: a man in his late-50s, a woman in her 60s, and two sons, 30 and 20.
The man was a fisherman and speaks Japanese and a little Chinese. His elder son was a student in a technical college and the younger son was an octopus fisherman. They all have North Korean identification cards.
According the Japanese media, they left Chongjin on May 27th for their first destination of Nigata where the Mankyungbong used to arrive. However, they were carried by the northward flowing Tsushima Oceanic Current to the Japanese Island Chain, arriving 850 km from Chonglin at Aomori beach.
When they were found by a Japanese fisherman, the father asked him incautiously where Nigata was and explained the desperation they endured clinging to the boat during four days of foul weather and heavy fog. They defected because “it was so terrible that we ate only once two days and were likely to starve. At first, we planned to go to South Korea, but we came to Japan because of the strengthened border defense.”
The boat they took is 1.8 meters length and contained two small engines which were previously used as cultivators, a plastic oil tank, a 3 meter paddle, and a bottle of poison.
They submitted a Korean language petition to defect to South Korea to the Japanese police, citing their discontent with the North Korean system: “We were sick of regressive, incompetent leadership and were worried about our sons’ future. We hope to be allowed to reach South Korea where we share a common language.”
Yomiuri Shimbun said “It costs at least 5mn won (around US$538) for the bribes to border guards and brokers, 50 times the amount of average annual income, when North Korean people cross the border between China. Therefore, they seemed to choose the seaway to defect.”
The Ministers of the Foreign Affairs of both countries stated in a bilateral meeting on June 3rd that “defectors and their aspirations must be treated according to humanitarian principals.”