I’ve been here for over 4 years now and I’ve never really had an inkling of much happening up North. The NK land mine that wounded a South Korean soldier last year which escalated to artillery and speakers barrages was the tensest it’s been, but even that was well under control. Nothing outside of the ordinary.
However now something interesting is happening. I’m seeing more news stories about Korean defections and news reports about their overseas workers. This is strange because it is something that has be ignored for awhile now, so the question is why suddenly all these stories? The number of defections to SK has been in decline for a few years now, but suddenly we get a news story of an entire overseas North Korean restaurant and it’s 13 employees defecting. There is also reports that army rations are cut and NK soldiers are bullying the population to make up the gap.
While the biggest news is of the North Korean diplomat in London who defected before emptying out one of the slush funds worth ~400 million dollars, which is a sizable amount of money for them. This has pushed Kim Jong Un to call back overseas workers and diplomats, or their family’s, the goal here is to create an incentive [by keeping family hostage] not to defect. Then we get news stories that many of these diplomats are actually very poor, drawing government aid from the countries they work in, seeking out charity and donations. Reports that these embassies had their funding cut, and are expected to fundraise and find ways to pay for their own operation.
I’m a little confused as to why this is all happening now, and why a diplomat who has such trust from Kim Jong Un, to live and work in London with his entire family would defect in the first place. What made him defect? He said he wants a better life for his kids, but while that may be true, would that really be the prime mover? I suspect he may have been offered something.
Why would he not seek refuge in the UK where he lived and worked. Why would he leave the UK and apply for refuge in South Korea? Which he was granted btw. I suspect he was promised something in South Korea for his defection, possibly a position to guide reunification? Watch this guy and see where his future takes him.
There are also rumors of the North Korean elite preparing their children for the South Korean university entrance exam. This is just speculation, but I’ve heard it suggested that unification may be a real possibility and the elite and simply preparing their students for it. On the other hand, my brain says it’s simply practicality, SK has designed the test already, just reuse it again because it’s a good test.
Anyway I’ve always felt like reunification was an impossibility during my stay here, but perhaps that isn’t true. I think for this theory of reunification to get some legs we’ll have to see more propaganda in the South of the benefits of reunification. A lot of people I suspect will be against it, as it won’t be cheap to rebuild the North, and the brotherly love of shared ethnicity seems to have evaporated with time.