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Seoul police discovers North Korean defector’s decaying corpse

Seoul police discovers North Korean defector’s decaying corpse

Seoul police discovers North Korean defector’s decaying corpse

Seoul police discovers North Korean defector’s decaying corpse

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  • North Korean defector’s rotting remains last Wednesday in Seoul, South Korean officials opened an inquiry.
  • The defection occurred in 2002, and the police and South Korea’s Unification Ministry identified the defector as a lady in her 40s.
  • According to Seoul police, the woman had often skipped rent payments and was unable to be reached.
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Following the discovery of a North Korean defector’s rotting remains last Wednesday in Seoul, South Korean officials opened an inquiry.

The defection occurred in 2002, and the police and South Korea’s Unification Ministry identified the defector as a lady in her 40s.

According to Seoul police, the woman had often skipped rent payments and was unable to be reached. As a result, the public housing corporation Seoul Housing & Communities Corporation sent personnel to check on her flat, where they discovered her dead.

According to investigators, her body had almost skeleton-like decomposition. Police believe she has been deceased for roughly a year based on the cold clothing she was wearing, but an autopsy will provide more precise information.

Although the Unification Ministry did not give her name, it claimed that she had previously been hailed by officials as an example of a successful relocation.

The woman had, according to the government, worked as a counsellor at the Korea Hana Foundation from 2011 to 2017, assisting other defectors with their relocation to the South.

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The woman reportedly requested police not to extend their protection services in 2019, according to Seoul police. South Korean officials regularly monitor North Korean defectors and conduct welfare checks while assisting with their resettlement.

The woman was not on the Unification Ministry’s own monitoring list, the ministry added. The National Forensic Service had received a request for an investigation, according to the police.

The case, according to a representative of the Unification Ministry, is “extremely sad.” The official added that the ministry will review the crisis management procedure for North Korean defectors and focus on areas that needed improvement.

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The Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea had earlier issued a warning that there were “signs of a (welfare) crisis,” which prompted Seoul’s local authorities to launch their own investigation.

Around the turn of the century, a sizable number of defectors started crossing the long border between North Korea and China and entering South Korea.

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According to the Unification Ministry, more than 33,000 persons have defected from North to South Korea since 1998, with the annual numbers reaching a peak of 2,914 in 2009.

Since the epidemic started, those numbers have significantly decreased; so far this year, only 42 defectors have been reported, down from over 1,000 in 2019.

Risks associated with crossing the border include being forced into the sex trade in China or being apprehended and returned to North Korea, where defectors risk torture, incarceration, and even death.

However, individuals who manage to reach South Korea frequently face a number of new issues, including as culture shock, animosity from certain South Koreans, financial concerns, and challenges in obtaining work in the nation’s extremely competitive job market.

According to the Unification Ministry, 9.4% of defectors in South Korea were unemployed as of 2020, compared to 4% of the total population.

Just a year after initially leaving the impoverished and secluded country, a defector in South Korea—reportedly a construction worker in his 30s—crossed back into North Korea. His remarkable return garnered worldwide attention, highlighting how difficult life can be for North Koreans in the South.

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