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In 2nd video, defector says she wasn’t forced

Aug 21,2017
Lim Ji-hyun, the North Korean defector who wound up back in the North and appeared in a video last month comparing life in South Korea to “hell,” was featured in a second video released online last Saturday, stressing that she had not been forced back to return nor was she abused by authorities.

The 40-minute video was posted on YouTube by Uriminzokkiri, a website run by North Korea’s equivalent to the South’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations. Last month, the same website ran a 27-minute video featuring Lim, surprising many in the South since she had appeared in local entertainment shows as recently as April, denouncing the Kim Jong-un leadership and criticizing life in the North.

One looming question was whether she was kidnapped by a North Korean agent and sent back home, as some South Korean intelligence officials explained can happen with defectors.

But in her first video, Lim said she returned of her own volition, a statement she re-emphasized in the recent video.

The defector, who now goes by the name Jon Hye-song in the North, said it was a “red lie” to assert she was forced back, adding that she voluntarily swam across the Amnok River (also known as the Yalu River), which divides China and North Korea, earlier this year to be back with her parents.

Without mentioning when exactly she reached the North, Lim said she was never tortured by North Korean officials and that she underwent medical treatment before making her final travel to Anju, in South Pyongan Province, where her parents lived.

“I didn’t have a job so I couldn’t earn any money,” she said of her life in the South, “and I drank because I missed home.”

At one point, Lim said many young North Korean defectors “enter the shadows” once they reach the South, admitting she also once appeared in a pornographic video to make money.

On how she defected from the North in the first place, Lim said she made her way into South Korea in January 2014, looking for cash, with the assistance of two South Korean brokers she had met in China.

“I’m never going back to South Korea,” she added, encouraging North Korean defectors in the South to “fight” to return like Kim Ryon-hui, saying they would not regret it.

A woman who claimed to be Kim’s daughter also appeared in the video, sitting next to Lim. Kim is a vocal Kim Jong-un endorser in South Korea who wishes to return home.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, PARK YONG-HAN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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