Advertisement

North Korean diplomats sending their children to mental hospitals

Cases of North Korean foreign service officers using mental health clinics as a refuge for their disillusioned children are on the rise, according to a source.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean diplomats sending their children to mental hospitals
A parade in Pyongyang, where North Korean diplomats take residence after working abroad. Foreign service officers are interrogated when their children speak positively of life outside North Korea. File photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, July 1 (UPI) -- North Korean diplomats, fearful of reprisals from the state for their children's positive remarks on life outside the country, are sending their sons and daughters to mental hospitals to protect them from state surveillance.

A source in Dandong, China who is familiar with the situation in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Wednesday that parents use bribes to cajole psychiatrists for admission into hospitals under false pretenses.

Advertisement

Cases of North Korean foreign service officers using mental health clinics as a refuge for their children are on the rise, according to the source.

"[Diplomats] with children who know the truth about the outside world are afraid of punishment and are sending them to mental hospitals [as a preventive measure]," the source said.

RELATED Report: North Korea executed over 1,300 people

North Koreans in the foreign service are typically elites who are well cared for by the state, and take residence in Pyongyang, where the standard of living is significantly higher than in many parts of the state.

However, even a few years overseas can bring disillusionment to the elite. Daily NK's source said, "Those who have experienced life abroad know North Korea is no paradise on Earth, and they return to North Korea with feelings of hatred toward the state."

Advertisement

Children say they do not want to return to Pyongyang when it's time to go home, and that they would rather stay abroad where open access to the Internet, foreign media and a freer lifestyle are some of the draws.

RELATED Demand for mobile phones in North Korea means two per household

Those who speak positively of their lives abroad with their friends in Pyongyang are often marked by authorities, who later call in the parents for months of interrogation.

Punishment and loss of job can often follow, and because of the risks involved, more diplomats are turning to mental hospitals where such slips of the tongue can go unpunished.

South Korean news outlet Newsis reported that even in cases where the parents are forgiven for their child's innocent mistake, they can still be expelled from the Workers' Party and undergo punishment in North Korea's re-education camps.

RELATED North Korea raises alarm over violent crime

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement