Seoul, South Korea
South Korean authorities have launched an investigation after the decomposing stays of a North Korean defector have been discovered within the capital Seoul final Wednesday.
The defector was a girl in her 40s who escaped to South Korea in 2002, based on police and South Korea’s Unification Ministry.
The girl had missed a number of lease funds and couldn’t be reached, so the Seoul Housing & Communities Company – a public housing firm – despatched employees to go to her house, the place they discovered her physique, based on Seoul police.
Her physique was severely decomposed, to an “nearly skeleton standing,” police stated. Primarily based on the winter garments she wore, police suspect she has been useless for a few 12 months – however extra actual particulars are anticipated after an post-mortem.
The Unification Ministry didn’t title her however stated authorities had as soon as touted her for example of a resettlement success story.
From 2011 to 2017, the lady had labored as a counselor on the ministry-run Korea Hana Basis, serving to different defectors resettle within the South, the ministry stated.
South Korean authorities routinely monitor North Korean defectors and supply welfare checks throughout their resettlement course of – however in 2019 the lady requested police to not lengthen their safety providers, based on Seoul police.
The Unification Ministry additionally stated the lady was not by itself watch listing.
The police stated that they had submitted a request for investigation to the Nationwide Forensic Service.
An official from the Unification Ministry stated the case was “very unhappy,” including the ministry would re-examine the disaster administration system for North Korean defectors, and work on areas that wanted enchancment.
South Korea’s Ministry of Well being and Welfare had beforehand warned there have been “indicators of a (welfare) disaster,” prompting native Seoul authorities to start their very own probe.
Defectors started coming into South Korea in important numbers across the flip of the century, most fleeing first over North Korea’s prolonged border with China.
Since 1998, greater than 33,000 folks have defected from North to South Korea, based on the Unification Ministry, with the annual numbers peaking at 2,914 in 2009.
These figures have dropped sharply because the pandemic started, with solely 42 defectors recorded to this point this 12 months – in comparison with greater than 1,000 in 2019.
The journey throughout the border is laden with dangers, corresponding to being trafficked in China’s intercourse commerce, or being caught and despatched again to North Korea, the place defectors face torture, imprisonment and demise.
However those that efficiently make it to South Korea typically discover a host of latest challenges, together with tradition shock, hostility from some South Koreans, monetary pressures and difficulties discovering employment within the nation’s notoriously aggressive job market.
As of 2020, 9.4% of defectors in South Korea have been unemployed – in comparison with 4% of the final inhabitants, based on the Unification Ministry.
In early January, a defector in South Korea – reportedly a development employee in his 30s – crossed again into North Korea, only a 12 months after he had initially fled the remoted and impoverished nation. His uncommon return made worldwide headlines, placing a highlight on how difficult life within the South may be for North Koreans.