From Indian Express-
SEOUL, NOVEMBER 19: Brokers here are busy selling what they call “planned escapes” from North Korea. Given enough money, the brokers say, they can now get just about anyone out of the dictatorial Stalinist state that human rights activists call the world’s largest prison.During the cold war, Eastern Europeans paid to be smuggled out from behind the iron curtain or had family and friends who paid the expense. It is entirely reasonable to me that the same state of affairs is taking place in North Korea today.
A low-budget escape through China via Thailand to Seoul can cost less than $2,000, according to four brokers here.
North Korea’s underground railroad to the South is busier than ever because the number of border guards and low-level security officials in the North, who are eager to take bribes, has increased exponentially.
With the disintegration of North Korea’s communist economy and the near-collapse of its state-run food distribution system, the country’s non-elite population is in dire need of cash for food and other essentials, experts agree. “More than ever, money talks,” said Chun Ki-won, a Christian pastor and aid worker in Seoul, who has helped 650 people elude Chinese authorities and settle in Seoul.
Religious groups once dominated the defection trade in North Korea, but in recent years defectors themselves, many of them former military and security officers, have begun to take over.
These brokers, based in Seoul, use personal and institutional contacts to hire North Korean guides and bribe officials. The guides make clandestine contact with defectors, then escort them to the Chinese border.
I do find it interesting that a smuggler quoted a price for the above article. $2,000 seems pretty cheap for the risks involved. I wonder if that figure is accurate.
Hat tip- DPRK Studies
Linked to- High Desert Wanderer, Pirate's Cove, Populist, Right Wing Nation, Rosemary,