5.On the matter of employment; jobs are hard to find and the only available occupations are dangerous and dirty:
The speaker claimed that it is hard to get jobs in South Korea. Also, the speaker claimed that even if a defector finds a job it would be a job that South Koreans do not want to do. North Korean refugees are treated as foreigners, and jobs are not forthcoming. The only jobs that are provided are dangerous, for example working on a construction site, in heat treatment, or other hazardous works. Many people are harmed through this kind of work and they do not get medical treatment.
* The speaker paused the seminar for a moment and called upon a few audience members, asking them whether they think they would be able to find work if they escaped to such a horrible place.
6.On the matter of an official’s wages: South Korean officials get a monthly salary of KRW 2million. This amount makes it very difficult to live.
A government official’s wages are often 2,000,000 KRW per month. More than the half is taxed, and what is left is less than 1 Million KRW. With this money, they need to educate their children and feed their family. But food is extremely expensive, too. So a three-person family will struggle.
* The speaker said that defectors get about 1.2 Million KRW per month, after working for 9 to 10 hours a day. The speaker claimed that after taxation, the left over money is not enough to eat.
7. On the matter of remittances sent to family in North Korea
The money is not from the defectors. The money is from the South Korean government. It is lent to defectors at a high interest rate. The money is meant to entice North Koreans to escape to South Korea.
The speaker played a tape of a defector talking to her mother, who she left behind in North Korea. The tape said that the woman defected last year and had to sell her body in a Karaoke bar, because she could not find a job in South Korea.
The last part of the seminar talked about how merciful North Korea is to those who come back and that those who return to North Korea live happy lives.
Our reporting partner explained the reactions of the seminar participants:
Some of the participants shed tears. Many showed disappointment. Some said, “Even if we eat porridge, let’s eat it comfortably at home [in North Korea].” Some exclaimed, “We shouldn’t accept the money that families in the South send us.”
It is reasonable to regard the participants’ reactions as a performance. That they were hiding their true thoughts from others
* Asia Press uses Chinese phones to contact internal reporting partners inside North Korea.