It takes one hour and 45 minutes to fly from Shenyang, a sprawling provincial capital in northeastern China not far from the border with North Korea, to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. It’s the kind of flight in which passengers have to gobble down their beef and rice before the attendants come around telling them to stow their tray tables for landing

But for the North Koreans who escape from Kim Jong Un’s regime, by way of China, there is no quick flight onward.

Instead, they embark on a grueling journey that — best-case scenario — involves traveling almost 2,700 miles on buses, motorbikes and boats, in taxis and on foot over mountains, on a roundabout route that scores of North Koreans each month are embracing as the best possible way to reach South Korea, where they will immediately become South Korean citizens.

For most, the journey will first pass through China, Vietnam and Laos, where they must be on the alert for police who might arrest them and send them back the way they came — to certain and brutal punishment in North Korea.

Not until they cross a fourth frontier from Laos into Thailand are they are finally safe.


Read the whole story from The Washington Post.

Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia