North Korea Can’t Stop the Defections Forever

The North Korean authorities have been working tirelessly ever since Kim Jong Eun came to power to limit the number of people defecting, and the policy has met with some success. However, most experts agree that it will be impossible for the regime to continue doing so indefinitely.

Hyun In Ae of NK Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS) noted that point in a speech on the 17th, saying, “Kim Jong Eun came to power and at the same time enhanced controls over defection, but these controls are getting slack again as time goes by. Controlling defection is fundamentally impossible because there are border guards and others out there who survive on money from would-be defectors.”

According to Ministry of Unification statistics, the number of defectors arriving in South Korea is indeed beginning to rise slightly, going from 90 in February to 116 in March, 107 in April, 137 in May, 141 in June and 164 in July.

Hyun continued, “The cost of defection has risen to more than five million won, while there are almost no travel permits being issued and close checks being conducted on accommodations in the region. However, orders from above are only being kept at a low level and, as time goes by, will go slack and the number of defections will once again rise.”

“It is true that the number of defectors arriving in South Korea has fallen compared to last year, but because people cannot survive on state distribution and wages they are going to keep on trying to defect irrespective of the official controls.”

Hyun added that in Hyesan the number of people defecting is beginning to rise because it has become harder to make money from smuggling in the face of increased border security.