Advertisement

North Korea defector's death reveals life struggles in South

The defector criticized a "winner-takes-all" approach to life in South Korea.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korean men wearing pins of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung enter the North Korean Embassy in Beijing with flowers in 2013. More North Korean defectors are resettling in South Korea but many face adjustment difficulties, as one man's diary showed on Monday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/1a512c712095cb210a4ddca509d2b549/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
North Korean men wearing pins of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung enter the North Korean Embassy in Beijing with flowers in 2013. More North Korean defectors are resettling in South Korea but many face adjustment difficulties, as one man's diary showed on Monday. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- A North Korean defector who died in a work-related accident left behind a diary that sheds light on his personal struggles as a newcomer to South Korean society.

The defector, who was unidentified, fell to his death on Aug. 13 while cleaning windows located on the second floor of a building in Incheon, Yonhap reported.

Advertisement

In his notes, the 48-year-old man reflected on the obstacles he faced in his new life in South Korea.

"I do not wish to be carried away by the waves of a results-oriented way of life [in South Korea] and a world where winner takes all...where expediency is tolerated," the defector had written in one diary entry.

RELATED South Korea's Park Geun-hye: 'Serious cracks' emerging in North Korean regime

According to North Korean friends and family in the South who knew him, the defector was the head of parking management in the building where he worked, but was demoted to cleaning services in April due to corporate restructuring.

The parent company of the defector's employer is POSCO, one of South Korea's largest conglomerates, according to the report.

The defector's brother-in-law, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said other colleagues were not demoted but that his brother-in-law was the target of discrimination.

Advertisement

The defector was an accredited physician in North Korea but left with his family because his wife suffered from a liver disease.

The family resettled in South Korea in 2006, and his wife was able to receive the medical treatment she needed, according to the report.

News of the defector's tragic death comes at a time when more North Korean defectors are leaving for different reasons than they did during the famine-stricken past, according to data from Seoul's unification ministry.

RELATED China border trade with North Korea 'very active', report says

The ministry stated Sunday defectors now leave because they are "dissatisfied with the North Korean regime" or "long to live in a free society," Newsis reported.

More North Koreans who identify themselves as middle class are resettling in the South, according to the ministry, and fewer respondents say they left solely because of economic difficulties.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement