North Korea emboldened: How Chinese gangs help and prop up Kim Jong-un’s rogue state

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North Korean defectors have helped the wider world to gain a better insight into Kim Jong-un’s top secret regime. The hermit state typically refuses to interact with other nations apart from when it is absolutely necessary. Even when their ‘Supreme Leader’ was rumoured to be “gravely ill” or dead, after he disappeared for more than three weeks last month, the extremely private nation refused to comment. The brave individuals who have been able to talk about their experiences living under the Kim dynasty’s rule have helped to paint a better picture of life inside the regime. One defector, Park Eunmi, who spent seven years in hiding after she managed to smuggle herself across the North Korean border, revealed the shocking role that Chinese gangs play in exploiting vulnerable escapees.

Park Eunmi detailed the heartbreaking difficulties she faced after fleeing North Korea, while Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il ruled the state.

She was the first of her family to leave and was feared dead for more than seven years after authorities claimed she had been killed as she fought-off rapists.

But the young woman was actually living in a Chinese city that shares the border with North Korea, a 2014 episode of the Australian show ‘Dateline’ reported.

There she was at the mercy of a restaurant owner who exploited her and when she tried to escape instructed a gang to pursue her – they were instructed to either kill her or have her deported.

Ms Park said: “They’d say, ‘We know you’re from North Korea, you should be grateful that we even let you work here. Don’t even think about money,’ that meant I wouldn’t be paid for my work.”

“It was like a nightmare, I had people chasing me, I knew they would kill me if they caught me. I just knew. 

“That was the main reason I decided to come to South Korea.”

Many of Ms Park’s experiences were too traumatic to talk about and she admitted her fear about having to describe them.

She said: “You’ve finally asked me the hardest and scariest question, I was actually quite worried about you asking.”

Prior to Ms Park gaining asylum in South Korea in January 2014, her family believed she was dead but didn’t give up hope.

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They gave several interviews to TV channels in the hope that their message may reach her. 

In Seoul, the southern state’s capital, they had an emotional reunion after not seeing one another for seven years.

Ms Park’s sister Park Yeon-mi explained that there were “no words” to describe how she felt after they were reunited.

She said: “I couldn’t speak, I was so happy but shocked.”

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Ms Park explained that it was her father who encouraged her to leave North Korea in the first place and she decided to leave before the rest of her family.

He was employed by the Workers’ Party of Korea before he became disillusioned and was tortured numerous times before he escaped.

Tragically, the father-of-two died from terminal cancer shortly after fleeing to China while his family remained in hiding.

She recalled: “My dad said to us, ‘You have no hope and future in North Korea, if you want to find hope you will have to leave and go to China’.

“That’s why we decided to leave. I found a broker and left home first.” 

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