North Korea
Dramatic Footage Shows the Moment North Korean Defector Escapes to the South Kim Won Jin/Getty Images

North Korean defectors shared their stories and the many challenges they face when starting a new life in South Korea. A 25-year-old North Korean female defector spoke anonymously at a cafe in Seoul, in her moment of revelation that motivated her to escape the North.

According to Fox News, the woman said that regardless of the risk of defection, life in North Korea wasn’t worth it, remarking that it was better to die than to live the North Korean way of life. However, she explained that the hardships of the average citizen in the North pale in comparison to those sent to the concentration camps. She said the government sends entire families to these labor camps, placing each member on different shifts so the family is never reunited. This method is implemented to decrease the chances of the family escaping, as it ensures that if one tries to escape, he/she will be leaving the rest of the family behind - which nobody wants.

The defector, whose identity was not published, added that the primary purpose of these camps is forced labor for crimes against the state. Those sent to these camps experience the harshest of living conditions and are often sentenced there for life. The female defector said that children who are sent to the camps with their convicted families, only receive education at 13 years of age. The North Korean government allegedly goes to great lengths to hide these camps from outside media, sometimes moving the camp and its occupants entirely and leaving behind what may appear to be a small village, with coal miners being placed as its inhabitants.

In another defector’s accounts, for 31-year-old Kim Ji-young, her escape alongside her mother and three cousins from the North to the South “was like a dream” however, a difficult adjustment period greeted Kim and her family shortly after their arrival. The family knew no one, experienced striking cultural differences and had to learn the basics of living in a high-tech, democratic society, she told BBC News.

Kim is one of the thousands of defectors who escaped the North's isolated dictatorship. And like her, all defectors face the same challenges in resettlement as she and her family did. The initial steps they undergo upon arrival include a period of investigation and debriefing with the South Korean intelligence service.

Sokeel Park, South Korean Country Director of Liberty in North Korea said, "Then there's three months at an institution called Hanawon, a resettlement education facility run by the South Korean government.”

These three months would see them learning various things about the culture of South Korean society such as the use of modern transportation, getting a job, and even using an ATM. They also get a deeper look into how democracy works and its differences in how things are done in North Korea.

A South Korean soldier guards the entrance to the camp Kumgang Mountain military base
A South Korean soldier guards the entrance to the camp Kumgang Mountain military base near the border area of Goseong on South Korea's northeast coast on June 17, 2020. - North Korea threatened June 17 to bolster its military presence in and around the Demilitarized Zone, a day after blowing up its liaison office with the South, prompting sharp criticism from Seoul. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

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