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Survey: 9 in 10 North Korea defectors say life worsened under Kim Jong Un

By
Elizabeth Shim
A North Korean waits with his tractor for a small pontoon to cross a tributary on the banks of the Yalu River near Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Life under Kim Jong Un has declined, according to a recent South Korean survey. File Photo by Stephen Shaver
A North Korean waits with his tractor for a small pontoon to cross a tributary on the banks of the Yalu River near Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Life under Kim Jong Un has declined, according to a recent South Korean survey. File Photo by Stephen Shaver | License Photo

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Nearly 90 percent of North Korean defectors who participated in a recent South Korean survey said living conditions have deteriorated under Kim Jong Un.

The South Korea-based defector organization North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity presented its findings Monday in a report that addresses the "core issues" surrounding North and South Korea, local news service News 1 reported.

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According to the survey, 89 percent of defectors said the situation "has not improved" under Kim, who fully assumed power in 2012.

Within the group who spoke unfavorably of the Kim regime, the majority, or nearly 64 percent, said conditions have "definitely not improved" in the North.

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Conversely, 11 percent said living standards have "improved" under Kim while 2.8 percent of the group said the improvements were "significant."

The defectors also confirmed an earlier study that showed the Kim regime is increasingly the target of common complaints in the country.

According to the poll, 32 percent of defectors said they strongly agree that most ordinary North Koreans privately criticize Kim, while another 41 percent said they somewhat agree with the statement. Only 2.8 percent of those surveyed disagreed with the statement.

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A previous study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., found 35 of 36 North Koreans interviewed in the country complain or make jokes about the government in private although criticism of the state is a serious crime, punishable by imprisonment or even death in North Korea.

The NKIS study published Monday also indicates defectors view the rise in defections as destabilizing for the regime.

Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said the defection of state officials could lead to collapse, and within that group 31 percent said the defection of senior people in government would have a "very large impact."

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