Decomposing body of female North Korean defector found ‘after one year’ in Seoul home

Decomposed body found wearing winter clothes, suggesting it could be a year old

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 26 October 2022 06:24 BST
Life inside North Korea

A North Korean defector’s body, believed to be decomposing for nearly a year, has been discovered in her Seoul home.

The woman, 49, defected to South Korea in 2002 and became an example of successful resettlement after she started working.

The badly decomposed body of the woman, who was still wearing winter clothes, was discovered on 19 October, Yangcheon district police said on Tuesday, according to the Korea Times.

Investigators believed that she has been dead for nearly a year given the extent to which her corpse had decomposed and also because she was found wearing winter clothes.

Her body was discovered after an official of the city-owned public rental house provider tried to contact her to have her contract renewed.

Police said they will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

The woman had no family members in South Korea.

Every year, hundreds of North Koreans try to cross the almost impenetrable border between North and South Korea, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone in a bid to live better lives by escaping a politically isolated country that limits basic freedoms and battles famine and poverty.

According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, more than 33,000 North Koreans defected to the South since 1998 in the aftermath of the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The ministry told the outlet that the woman entered South Korea in 2002 and began working at the Korea Hana Foundation, a ministry-run organisation to support resettlers.

The woman was hailed by local media as she became an example of a successful resettlement case. She left her job in 2017 and lost touch with former co-workers.

In August, South Korea’s Unification Minister Kwon Young-se reaffirmed the government’s resolve to help enhance the human rights situation in North Korea.

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