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NK Boat People Yearned for Decent Education

Posted August. 19, 2002 22:22,   


Sun Jong-shik, 70, and his family members, who sought asylum in Korea by boat on the 18th are reported to have thoroughly prepared for the defection during 2 years, and discussed ways to escape their hunger-stricken nation with his brother and nephews in China in Dec. 2000.

According to Bong-shik, 55, Jong-shik`s younger brother, 3 brothers and 1 sister, who are alive of 8 siblings, are living in Korea. Bong-shik met with Jong-shik and his son Yong-beom, 46, in Dandung, China.

In their meeting, Yong-beom confided his plan to escape North Korea, saying, "I want my children to receive decent education in the free land. This is also the hope of my father." He also asked details about what assistance the South Korean government provided for North Korean defectors to settle in the nation.

He asked help, saying, "It is difficult to escape with my boat because it is too small and obsolete. And it takes 10 million won to buy a Chinese fishing boat that can accommodate 20 people."

So Bong-shik gave his nephew 500 to 600 dollars, which was all he had, and promised to seek ways to help them. But he could not give them a helping hand as the contact has been cut off since then.

Bong-shik said, "It appears that Yong-beom intentionally cut off the contact for fear of their plan being leaked, and had prepared for defection. He is a hard-working man, who once worked as a lumberman in Russia for the livelihood of his family. He was in the relatively good position to escape because he has usually been out of home for fishing."

Meanwhile maritime police hold a press conference on the 19th and said, "The initial investigation confirmed that they made their way to South Korea after having made a thorough preparation for defection."

Maritime police added, "Sun Jong-shik, who was recruited to the North Korean army during the Korean War, used to say that his brothers lived in the South. Yong-beom, who worked as a captain of a fishing boat, had longed for South Korea as his family had difficulty making ends meet." According to maritime police, Sun Jong-shik had lived in North Korea for 50 years and began taking steps for defection from 2 years ago.

Yong-beom prepared for all necessities and set out the defection route as well as collecting people who wanted to chime in.

Yong-beom and his family teamed up with Lee Gyeong-sung, engineer of Yong-beom`s boat and his friend Bang Hoe-bok and his family.

They left North Korea at 4 am on the 17th and met the South Korean maritime police 37 hours after they set sail. They arrived in Incheon port in yesterday morning.

They left for Seoul to be quizzed jointly by related agencies.