Imprisoned in Three Countries: China, North Korea, and Russia
by an unnamed North Korean defector
When I were asked, where I want to visit for the first time in South Korea, I would reply that prison and dumping ground are the very places that I want to see.
Whenever I was asked another question, “why?” I would answer to them without hesitation, ‘we cannot find any parallel where clearly shows the real human rights situation and the life standard of the people’. I want you not to mistakenly consider it as my personal opinion. That’s the reality. I never dreamed in my life that even I, so moral that can live without the law, would be doomed to be a defector and locked in a jail, not in a single country but three countries such as North, China, and Russia in the way of running.
If I can include months of investigation in South Korea into prison term, I am the person who have been behind the bar in four countries in total. What I’ve experienced in the prison put me in an objective position that allows me to compare the real situation of prisons in various countries.
When I was in North Korea, I was one the patriots who are ready to dedicate themselves to the great leader and the government. The fact that Kim Il-sung and his son have fought for the independence of our country against Japanese colonization inspired me to admire them. Respecting the discipline given by Kim, Il-sung, who once declared that rice is equal to communism, I changed my mind to be an engineer and came to study agrology. Solving food crisis is the one that I am interested in and I spent all my life into improving agricultural technology. Drinking, smoking, and playing cards were far from me. As I was giving all my energy to my study, I married in the wrong side of thirties and was so naïve that I knew nothing at all about connubiality. Becoming an authority in my field, I accomplished agricultural production technology as I’ve designed for a long time. The problem was any brilliant and evolutionary advancement in agricultural technology bears no fruit outside the lab.
What taught me when I went out and personally examine the problem in the collective farm was that the failure doesn’t come from the technology but from the agricultural policy arranged by the government.
How inefficient the collective labor, which paralyzes individual’s incentive to work for the high rate of production, is obvious when we compare the production rate of collective farm and that of private farm. Actually, the production rate of private farms was two to three times higher than that of collective farms.
The fundamental revolution in agriculture should be based on the privatization of the farm to allow individuals to work on their own one. After days of contemplation, I decided to submit a proposal to the great leader with survey data and my deep concern in the current food crisis. It was obvious that I was about to take a risk, given that North Korea is a rigidly controlled society where individual’s faith is determined at the mercy of Kim’s dictation. My wife even entreatingly implored me not to submit the proposal, otherwise she would resort to divorce. Coming to think of why privatization is unimaginable in North Korea, I reached a conclusion that the overall problem comes from the political strategy to make Kim’s control invincible. Feeling all the long-held respect to Kim and his son are crashing down, I lost all my hope and finally began to consider escaping from North Korea.
North Korean people are brainwashed to the extent that their main concern is not to be a betrayal, so did I. This kind of internal conflict could be solved when I came to think that entering South Korea, one region where our ancestor had lived, is not guilty at all. Curiously enough all the North Korean people didn’t attempt to think this matter in such a simple way.
The next anxiety that scrupled me was the faith of my family. I didn’t care whether I die or not, however, my family did matter. North Korean government punishes not only the criminal but also the family altogether, the most malicious method which could be seen in the middle age. I could solve this problem by divorce and escaping without giving notice to my relatives. Crossing the boarder is the most difficult blockage that I should overcome. I decided to across the Ap-rok river, national border between China and North Korea. Immediately after I gave a sigh of relief, I was arrested by the Chinese guards, though fortunately I could cross the border line. I was shacked and locked in Chinese prison. It was common that Chinese government repatriate defectors in defiance of international refugee law. I was caught at Jang-bak-si, Jang-bak-hyun in China and handed to North Korean guard in Hae-san, Yang-gang-do. All that I could heard when I arrived at the watch house was a cracking voice of the border guard who ordered me to knelt down. After take-over procedure, I was shacked with a handcuff, abraded more than that of China and deported to North Korean prison.