North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho never looked back – but some wish to return

North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho never looked back - but some wish to returnMore than 20 percent of the North Korean defectors who have made their way to safety in South Korea have contemplated returning to their homeland, according to a new study. The survey, conducted by the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights and NK Social Research, showed that 22.9 percent of defectors have toyed with the idea of returning to the North. The defectors are not, however, primarily motivated by disillusionment with life in the South or ideological differences with capitalist society, the study found. More than 34 percent said they had considered returning to North Korea in order to be reunited with their families, while others cited nostalgia for their hometowns, Yonhap news reported. The struggles that defectors have faced in order to escape the oppressive regime in Pyongyang were highlighted in President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Monday evening, with the president singling out Ji Seong-ho. In numbers | North Korean defectors Mr Ji was among the guests of honour at the address in Washington, and brandished a pair of crutches fashioned in the North as he was applauded. Mr Ji, 35, fell from a train as he was scavenging for coal at the age of 14 and lost his left leg below he knee and his left hand at the wrist when the train rolled over his limbs. In in interview in 2012, he said the next time he goes to North Korea will be after reunification is achieved. Other North Korean defectors appear to be more impatient about returning, the NKDB report showed. "The result indicates that not a small number of North Korean defectors are grappling with difficulties in resettling in the South", the report concluded. "It highlights the importance of providing psychological support and stable human networks for North Korean defectors, as well as economic support". FAQ | North Korean defection As many as 300,000 North Koreans are estimated to have defected since the end of the Korean War in 1953, mostly through China or Russia. A total of 31,093 were registered with the Unification Ministry in Seoul in 2017, of whom 71 percent were women. According to the ministry, just 1,127 managed to escape the North last year, down 21 percent on the previous year and evidence of a crackdown on attempts to flee the regime. South Korea does not provide statistics on defectors who subsequently return to the North, but Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has begun a campaign to convince escapees to return. There are reports that defectors are being offered guarantees over their safety and that of their families, as well as £33,000 in cash to return. A number of those who have accepted the offer have later appeared on North Korean television and described in detail the misery of their lives in the South before pledging their allegiance to Mr Kim. 



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