‘Yantai Incident’ Mother and Daughter Defectors Lost in China

[imText1]Ok Ju and her mother who had narrowly escaped from death in the Yantai Incident are lost in China after twenty days of traveling to South Korea, reported the son, Bae Kwang Myung, on January 4th.

Known only as mother and daughter, it was later discovered that the Ok Ju family had a son.

The Yantai Incident refers to the defection attempt that occurred on January 29, 2003, when 80 North Korean defectors tried to leave China on a boat to South Korea, but were arrested by the Chinese police. On that day, about 40 defectors were arrested and repatriated to North Korea and the others were scattered.

Among the forty arrested, Ok Ju and her mother succeeded in escaping during the repatriation process in December 2004 and was known to have stayed in Yanji, China

Kwang Myung made it to South Korea through Vietnam last June in order to prepare money to assist in the defection of his mother and sister. He testified, “We had to have 18 Million Won ($18,000) for our family to come to South Korea together” and explained how they became separated.

Assumed “Either Sold or Arrested by the Chinese Police”

As soon as Kwang Myung came out of Hanawon (government-run education center for NK defectors) last November, he put together $1,200 from the resettlement money from the government and the little he saved from his part-time job and wired it to his mother. He received a reply from his mother that she received the money and that she departed from Yanji.

Initially he tried to return to China to bring his family to South Korea by passing through Vietnam, but he had to wait at least six months for his passport to come out. $1,200 is a sufficient amount for his mother and sister to make it to Vietnam without a broker. However, Kwang Myung says not only has he lost contact with his mother but also with all the people he knew there and even the people who were supposed to take his family to Vietnam.

“Before she left, she called me. Then when I called her back, the only answer I got is a repeating sound in Chinese, ‘The number you have called does not exist.’ I call the guide, and I get the same voice.

Kwang Myung assumes that his mother and sister have been arrested by the Chinese police, if not sold (to Chinese people). If caught by human traffickers and sold, because neither of them speak Chinese, Ok Ju and her mother will not be able to escape for some time. In the case they are arrested by the Chinese police, since they do not have passports and are unable to speak Chinese, there is a good chance that they will be repatriated to North Korea.