Woman who defected from North Korea says regime is 'much worse' than media portrays it

'They are so focused on the military and showing scenes of Pyongyang when average North Koreans are really struggling to survive'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson@lucypasha
Monday 16 October 2017 18:01
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The woman has been working with humanitarian organisation LiNK to tell her story
The woman has been working with humanitarian organisation LiNK to tell her story

A North Korean woman who defected to China has claimed Kim Jong-un's totalitarian regime is "much worse than the way media portrays it."

Identified as Joy, the woman escaped from the secretive communist state when she was 18.

But after making it across the border to China, she was trafficked and sold as a bride.

Eventually Joy, now 25, managed to flee again to her current home in South Korea, but was forced to leave her daughter behind with her husband.

Speaking about her life in North Korea, she told an "ask me anything" event on the Reddit website: "I did not spend much time in school because of how difficult life was for us.

"The Great Famine left us without food and we needed to work on the farms instead of going to school. I remember textbooks always portrayed America as a terrible place and Americans as evil."

Responding to a question about state prisons, she said people would often just vanish overnight in the country.

"Only people that are deemed loyal by the regime are allowed to live in Pyongyang. I live in the northern part of the country which made it easier to cross into China," she wrote.

"I knew many people that disappeared and it was rumoured they were taken to prison camps. There was never a way to confirm it, they just vanished one day."

She said the media focuses disproportionately on the state's military regime, when ordinary people are facing a humanitarian crisis.

"It is much worse than the way media portrays it," she wrote. "They are so focused on the military and showing scenes of Pyongyang when average North Koreans are really struggling to survive. I wish they would show how normal North Koreans who are trying to live normal lives despite the cruelness of the regime."

Joy said she hopes to bring her daughter to South Korea one day, but it will depend on her estranged husband's family.

"I can get my daughter if the man's family will allow me to take her. It will be difficult right now to bring her to South Korea because they want to keep her," she said. "I also want to finish university so I can get a job which will allow me to provide for her if she comes to South Korea."

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