Broadly (Vice): 'My People Are Brainwashed': The Women Who Escaped North Korea
From putting their families at risk of execution to struggles with guilt and paranoia, freedom comes at a cost for those who flee the Hermit Kingdom.
In Japan, North Korean fishing boats have come to be known as ghost ships.
In 2017, a total of 104 such vessels washed up on the west coast of Japan. Two years ago, 66 boats were found, according to the Japanese coast guard. Often, they would find the dead bodies of North Korean nationals inside, or nearby the boats.
Analysts say the increase in North Korean vessels washing ashore is a direct result of food shortages in North Korea, which in turn is the result of the tougher sanctions on North Korea in recent years.
These ghost ships, and the numerous missiles fired over Japanese territory by North Korea, don’t fit into the choreographed diplomacy performed by North and South Korea during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, with Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong sitting just meters away from South Korean president Moon Jae-in.
North Korean defectors living in Japan know better than to believe in the farce of ‘smile diplomacy,’ and the news stories about ghosts ships bring back painful memories of food shortages and hardship.