Despite trying to defect from North Korea three times, a woman was spared a harsher sentence because her son, a man from Anju in South Pyongan Province, agreed to donate KPW 300,000 to the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Loyalty Fund,” Daily NK has learned. 

The North Korean authorities usually impose sentences of more than five years for “serial defectors.” Thanks to her son’s contribution to the fund, however, the Anju woman received only a sentence of one year and six months at a re-education camp. 

The woman had already been investigated by the Ministry of State Security of South Pyongan Province for trying to defect from North Korea twice before. She was caught during her third attempt and deported back from China in July.


The incident – respectively, its outcome – has drawn mixed reactions from North Koreans. 

The Anju chapter of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), on the one hand, praised the son’s contribution to the fund, calling it a “loyal act of gratitude towards the Great Leaders, who watch over the nation and the people.”

Ordinary North Koreans, however, see the case more critically. According to Daily NK sources, many were outraged by how the “treasonous act” of defection was excused in exchange for money, and that the payment was portrayed by the authorities as a patriotic act.

“I’ve seen situations where people would’ve given up their property and fortune in exchange for a reduced sentence,” one of the sources told Daily NK. “But I haven’t seen many cases in which a sentence was suspended due to a donation to a fund.”


The “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Loyalty Fund” was first known as “International Kim Il Sung Fund” before it was renamed in 2012, after the death of Kim Jong Il. The fund originally sponsored the awarding of the “Kim Il Sung Prize” as well as the dissemination of the “Juche” ideology abroad – an attempt to generate an international pro-North-Korean sentiment.

North Korea’s fundraising and membership recruitment efforts thus concentrated on diplomatic outposts as well as restaurants overseas and were mainly directed towards foreigners.

More recently, however, the funds are reportedly diverted to Kim Jong Un’s regime; and its fundraisers now also require ordinary North Koreans to donate. The foundation’s managing association is currently presided by Kim Ki Nam, a former WPK secretary.

Daily NK has acquired a copy of a pamphlet about the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Loyalty Fund.” It offers a membership for which donors have to pay an application fee as well as a membership fee.

Further contributions to the fund require donors to draw up special agreements and transfer their money from the bank directly to the fund’s managing organization. According to the brochure, the fund accepts cash payments only. In special circumstances, however, members are also allowed to send in valuable goods instead of money.

*Translated by Violet Kim and edited by Laura Geigenberger

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to