A popular television personality in South Korea who gained fame after fleeing from North Korea three years ago, is feared to have been kidnapped and returned back to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the BBC reports.
After appearing in a propaganda video with another former defector who ‘returned’ to North Korea, many now believe a woman known as Lim Ji-hyun has been forcefully returned to the repressive regime she had originally fled.
The woman in the video goes by the name Jeon Hye-sung, and is titled “The truth revealed by Jeon Hye-sung who was used for anti-DPRK propaganda”, the Korea Times reports. In the video, she lambastes South Korean culture and speaks of missing her family in the DPRK.
I went to the South, led by fantasy that I could eat well and make a lot of money. But in the country where everything is judged by money, I was haunted by physical and psychological pain although I worked my butt off at bars and other places,” she said. “Now I’m in the motherland, staying with my parents in Anju, South Pyongan Province.”
Tens of thousands of North Koreans have defected to South Korea over the years, with only rare instances of the reverse. When ‘defections’ are reported by the DPRK regime, most with knowledge of the defector in question believe they were actually abducted.
North Korea has made abductions a state-run operation over its history, with perhaps the most notable example being the kidnapping of famous South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee by order of North Korean despot Kim Jong-Il. The dictator had a well-known fascination with cinema, and wished to see the DPRK claim glory on the big screen. But without the requisite talent on hand, Kim figured he would just steal it. And so, in 1977, Choi was kidnapped by North Korean operatives while in Hong Kong and forced to produce propaganda movies for the regime. She escaped years later, in 1986.
But it has not been exclusively actors and actresses kidnapped to satisfy the Dear Leader’s penchant for movies, the DPRK has abducted Japanese and South Korean citizens to use their skills as spies, instructors, and to glean military secrets from the West.
Since the 1970s, the number of reported abductions has slowed considerably, but it appears the practice is still alive and well today.
Featured Image from URIMINZOKKIRI, the DPRK state-run news agency, via YouTube