Re-defection to North Korea is again in the news following the capture of a “re-defector” family, that of Kim Kwang Ho, in the Chinese city of Yanji. However, the case is not news to defectors in South Korea; many assert that the North Korean National Security Agency (NSA) is both stepping up its surveillance of defector families inside North Korea and using them to try and lure others back across the border.
A large number of the defectors in South Korea have family still in North Korea, whom the NSA is, in essence, using as hostages in the plan. As such, this kind of situation is set to reoccur, they say, and second or third Kim Kwang Ho’s could easily emerge.
“I assume that Kim Kwang Ho seized the opportunity offered by a temporary relaxation in the NSA surveillance he was under to cross the border,” one source inside North Korea told Daily NK on the 16th. “The case hasn’t caused a panic, though; the NSA is asking the Chinese authorities in Yanji to cooperate.”
However, the case is having a societal effect. The source conveyed the atmosphere, “The rumor about defector Kim and his family has already spread far and wide in North Korea. People who had heard he was fooled into going to the South but returned saying he hated it are really confused now, since he suddenly took his family and went back there again.”
The NSA policy of luring defectors into re-defection has been confirmed. One man from North Hamkyung Province who spoke with his wife, who is still in North Korea, said, “NSA guys sometimes drop by our house to ask whether she has heard from her husband. They tell her that ‘we’ll forgive everything so tell him to come back.’ Then they leave.”
“If I call to ask for news from people near the border, they cut me off and say we shouldn’t talk about that. The NSA has 13 signal traps along the border, so citizens are being extremely careful,” he added.
Another defector, Park presented another story, explaining, “I defected at the age of 18 and have always sent money to my family, who are still in the North. Sometimes I call them, too. But then my mom said, ‘If you come, everyone will be ok.” adding, “Of course her words mean she is getting threats and surveillance from the NSA.”