Boat People from N.Korean are Elite Scientist and Family

Jenny Kim, July 6, 2017, 9:25 a.m.


Five North Koreans who crossed the maritime border in a small fishing boat last Saturday have turned out to be a scientist from Pyongyang and his family.

A government source said Wednesday the defector is a graduate of the prestigious Pyongsong Institute of Science and fled with his son, his son's girlfriend and two members of his brother's family. The son and son's girlfriend are also graduates of the same university and lived in Pyongyang.

They apparently became disillusioned with North Korea after Kim Jong-un came to power and traveled to Wonsan in Kangwon Province to buy the fishing boat.

One source said, "You need a permit to head out into the ocean and this takes a lot of time. It looks like they spent a lot of time preparing for their defection."

This is the second group of North Koreans to flee by boat this year. A researcher at a state-run think tank said, "It looks like more defections will take place by sea after the regime clamped down on land routes that go through China."

Meanwhile, a woman in her 40s who used to work for the ironically named Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland has also fled the North. This is the first time a member of the committee has defected to the South.

The woman gave a detailed briefing to South Korean officials on the situation at the committee and other intelligence agencies.

A government official said, "We've seen a string of defections from the North Korean elite in Pyongyang, apparently because of increased surveillance and monitoring since Kim Jong-un's rise to power."

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