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Poverty is main cause of human rights violation, defectors testify
MARCH 18, 2014 23:50  
North Korean defectors say in unison that improving North Korean human rights starts from improving the living conditions for the North Korean people. Park Ki-choon, a 49-year-old North Korean defector, said, 밣eople commit a crime by doing things that the nation prohibits because of poverty, and that is the beginning of the infringement of human rights, emphasizing that 뱋nly when people뭩 livelihood is improved, will the infringement of human rights be reduced. 밡o matter how much the outside world tells (North Korea) to resolve the human rights issues, the North Koran leadership will never listen to it.

Due to poverty, an increasing number of people choose to smuggle goods or defect from the communist nation. And the North Korean leadership, as a result, intensifies its punishment and violates human rights more seriously. This vicious cycle is what many North Korean people face in reality.

Seo Soo-yeon, a 45-year-old North Korean defector from Yanggang-do near North Korea뭩 border with China, was an ordinary homemaker until the mid- and late 1990s when the North Korean economic crisis known as 밃rduous March began. When it got too difficult to get food for living due to the suspension of the government뭩 food rationing, she packed valuables such as copper and went to the bank of the Amnok River. She could gain some soap and shoes from the Chinese merchants she met there. She started to smuggle more and more products, and later she bought 30-50 kilograms of metals at a time to smuggle into China. Seo said, 밃ll the people only dependent on the nation during the 멇rduous March starved to death Though (I) was afraid of crackdowns, making a living was the most important.

Hong Eun-gyeong, a 45-year-old North Korean defector, said that 밾unger is what saddens people the most and she came to South Korea to 밻arn a living. When she was working in a mine in Musan, a region in the northern province of North Korea, she was detained in Chongjin, a city in the same province, for one week on the charge of selling pollack that she bought in Chongjin. However, she continued doing it, coming back and forth between Musan and Chongjin because she was the only bread earner in her family.

Yoon Soo-jin, a 31-year-old North Korean defector, emphasized the need for food aid to the North Korean people by saying, 밫hough some people say there would be no effect, I personally believe continuous food aid to North Korea will prove to be effective for sure.

* Names of people referred to in the article are false to protect their identities.

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