7 January, 2013
Rev. Kim Seung-eun at the Caleb Mission Church in Cheonan, South Korea.
The border between China and North Korea has tightened on both ends, and the number of North Koreans able to flee the country has dropped 44%. According to Rev. Kim Seung-eun of the Caleb mission Church in Cheonan, South Korea, the cost of bribing soldiers at the border in order to smuggle a defector out of North Korea has increased significantly due to the higher risks. And with no punishment for accepting bribes, there is still a chance the the border official will turn defectors in after taking their money.
There are more checkpoints on the roads leading to China, as well as more barriers and frequent patrol rotations. North Korea has jammed Chinese cellphone signals, and has even begun tracing cell phone calls.
Yet even with the crackdown, Rev. Kim has also noticed a shift in both defector and border patrol attitudes that is more partial to South Korean style and media. Patrols will demand goods, and defectors will escape less in search of survival and more for opportunity. If reflexive of a larger ideology within North Korea we may begin to see more sides of the isolated country, and defectors, including those in The Defector, will be able to reunite with their families.
Read the full interview with Rev. Kim Seung-eun here.