Defiance and Hope in North Korea | Mike Kim | Talks at Google | Summary and Q&A

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June 30, 2009
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Defiance and Hope in North Korea | Mike Kim | Talks at Google

TL;DR

Author Mike Kim shares his experiences living in North Korea and helping North Korean refugees escape, shedding light on the human element often overlooked in discussions about the country.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How do North Korean refugees cross the Chinese border?

Refugees often find areas along the border that are less guarded and cross illegally. Some bribe guards to let them pass, while others pay people smugglers to guide them across.

Q: Why do some North Korean refugees choose to return to North Korea?

Many refugees have family still living in North Korea and feel a sense of duty to help their country change from within. Some lack the courage to make the risky journey to South Korea, while others feel disillusioned with their lives in China.

Q: What are the long-term prospects for North Korea?

Kim believes that gradual opening and liberalization, similar to China and Vietnam, would be the best outcome for North Korea. The increasing flow of information into the country and changing mindset of refugees may contribute to future change.

Q: Are there any risks or concerns for the author after publishing this book?

There is a small risk that North Korean authorities could target the author, but Kim feels safer outside of China. He acknowledges the possibility of North Korean spies and assassination attempts but remains optimistic about raising awareness and advocating for change.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Mike Kim founded the NGO Crossing Borders and spent time in North Korea, which formed the basis for his book, "Escaping North Korea."

  • He interviewed hundreds of North Koreans, discussing topics like the famine, sex trafficking, and propaganda.

  • Kim shares stories of refugees crossing the China-North Korea border and the risks they face, including sex trafficking and forced labor.

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