'Erosion from Within'Kim Kwang Jin, a financial specialist who escaped from North Korea, speaks perfect English and held a senior position within the North Korean Communist Party. As the representative of North Korea's North East Asia Bank in Singapore, he commuted back and forth between there and Pyongyang -- until the day he decided not to return home.
Kim Kwang Jin is one of the higher-ranking defectors from the regime's inner circle. Like Kim Yong Haw, the refugee helper, and many others, he lives in Seoul. The two men are working toward a common goal: the overthrow of a system that holds everyone hostage. This includes those who are still there as well as those who have left and must now fear for the lives of their relatives. The regime punishes relatives for the deeds of those who dared to leave.
The former banker still meets abroad with fellow bankers who are supposedly loyal to the regime. They don't mince words when they get together. He says that only the elites -- including members of the secret police, military officers, judges and senior government officials -- are still receiving daily food deliveries, or so-called "rations." Many live in downtown Pyongyang, in the government district surrounding Changgwang Street. The area looks like Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin, a major boulevard in the formerly communist part of the German capital lined with buildings consisting of large apartments with seven or eight rooms and two or three baths.
But, before that, Kim pulls a photo out of a transparent sleeve. It depicts him as a young officer. Another photo shows the three children he left behind in North Korea. Defectors don't like to talk about their families because the latter have almost always suffered bitterly.
Kim says that, after his defection, his wife and children were sent to Yodok, a notorious prison camp. According to Kim, his wife lost her mind and died shortly after her release, and the children were later shot to death.
Kim is crying. He couldn't do anything to rescue them, he sobs. Now he is stealing as many souls from the dictator as possible, he says. His goal is 10,000.
That, says Kim, is his revenge.