A unique story of a family fleeing from their country which had actually turned into a nightmare for them.
Mr. Kim confessed to with the BBC how he and his pregnant wife, mother and brother's family managed to escape from North Korea. It is the first recorded escape this year. As is already known, this Asian country is totally isolated from the rest of the world.
Kim and his family escaped from the sea during a stormy night. He says that he deliberately chose the bad weather, as only in this way he would not be spotted by the patrols.
His brother's children were sleeping because they had been given sleeping pills. To get out to sea, they had to cross a minefield and avoid the searchlights of the border guards. After boarding a small boat, they hid the children in old sacks and set off for South Korea. The two brothers carried swords, while the women carried bottles of poison. One small mistake and they would end up shot.
While talking about life in North Korea, Kim says that they suffered a lot there, especially in the days before the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We were terrified, everyone was isolated. Many have died of hunger", he recalls.
As he says, the government there used the pandemic to apply extreme measures of repression, in a country that had always been closed. "Prices reached their peak, while every day you heard of people dying for bread", says Kim.
There are no official figures for deaths from starvation in North Korea, however it is a fact that in March 2023 the country asked for help from the UN World Food Program. While the spokesman of "Amnesty International" Choi Jae-hoon said that he had heard of cases of starvation deaths from other North Koreans who had fled to Seoul.
Kim also shares his secret of survival.
"Before the pandemic, I sold technology items secretly. They were imported to China, but after the border was closed, I went out and sold vegetables." he adds to the BBC.
It seems as if the governors there have created the belief in the people that "everything belongs to the state", even oxygen.
"They are like vampires that suck your blood. The most punishable crime is if they find out you've shared information with the outside world. If they catch you, they shoot you to death or send you to a labor camp.”
Kim himself witnessed the public execution of a 22-year-old man who was shot because he had listened to 70 songs from South Korea and watched three movies, which he had shared with his friends. Joanna Hosaniak, a spokeswoman for an organization that fights for human rights in North Korea, commented that she was "not at all impressed" by the description of this execution, because she has conducted hundreds of interviews that have almost the same accounts.
However, the final straw for Mr. Kim was the suicide of a friend of his, who in order to raise enough money to get a divorce went into debt and then into a forced labor camp.
Kim and his brother, who had been illegally running a seafood business for years, had planned their escape for 7 months.
The fact that they both lived in a small fishing village near the South Korean border gave them a possible, though not safe, outlet from the sea. Kim says he approached the border guards and pretended to be one of them, until all the information about their movements in the area was extracted. However, the most endangered was his wife who was expecting a child.
"I said, you are a mother. Do you want us to raise our child in this hell?”, concludes Kim./tvklan.al