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Refugees Recount Misery in N. Korea

Posted July. 21, 2006 03:02,   


In the mid to late 1990s, when North Korea suffered from a severe food shortage, some killed their own children and ate the human flesh, according to the testimony by North Korean defectors.

Six North Korean defectors who were granted “non-political asylum” for the first time in May this year (see the related article of Dong-A Ilbo issued on May 22) had a press conference at the U.S. Senate in Washington on July 19. The press conference was led by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) who helped the defectors with the asylum process. The defectors wore ball caps and dark sunglasses in order not to reveal their identities. Shin Yo-sep (fictitious name, 32) was forced to return to North Korea three times when he was caught living in China. He said, “I heard and saw the incidences of eating human flesh.”

“There were a husband and a wife who were selling sundae, a typical Korean food similar to sausage at a market in my neighborhood. They killed 13 children. The children were begging for food in the market while their parents went out looking for food. After killing them the couple made sundae using the intestines of the children and sold it. And the couple was caught selling the sundae made of human flesh. I once bought and ate sundae there. When the 13th dead child was found, there was no way to identify the child. And the head of the child was put on the playground of a school so that school children could identify who the child was. My sister, Chan-mi, also saw it.”

He said, “After being caught by the Chinese authorities, I was sent to North Korea and imprisoned in a concentration camp 10m underground for six months. I was hung in the air, whipped and tortured.”

When asked about the life of North Korean children, the defectors replied, “Because of the economic difficulty, only ten text books are given to a class of 30 students. The U.N. provides cookies. But only a small amount of them are given to students because headmasters and teachers take a large amount.

A question was asked from the audience. “Did you feel the effect of the Sunshine policy in North Korea?”

Chan-mi answered, “I was aware that South Korea gave supplies to North Korea. However, they did not reach ordinary North Korean people. I think they were used to prepare for a war or to make nuclear weapons. Support from South Korea in this way shouldn’t be given to North Korea.”

Gee-Hong Lee sechepa@donga.com