Posts Tagged ‘The Crossing’

The Crossing is the fight of your life in which Time and Space are ground into pebbles so tiny they can slip through the cracks of an enormous fist.

-Mia Chung, You For Me For You

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Fresh off the press in time for the Company 1 first read of You For Me For You…

Courtesy of Yonhap News:

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) — The annual number of North Koreans defecting to the South is expected to hit the lowest level in seven years this year due to the communist country’s tightened border control under its new leadership, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Sunday.

The number of North Koreans fleeing to the South reached 1,086 during the January-September period, with women refugees accounting for 783 of them, according to the ministry.

By the year’s end, the total number of new North Korean refugees is expected to hit 1,440 for 2012, the first annual figure below the 2,000 level in seven years.

The annual number of North Korean refugees coming to the South reached only several hundred before the year 2000, but it first exceeded the 1,000 level the next year under the Kim Dae-jung administration, known widely for its engagement policy toward the communist North.

Since then, the annual number steadily grew to hit the 2,000 level in 2006 and stayed in the upper range of the 2,000 level for the next five years till last year, according to the ministry data.

The yearly number stood at 2,553 for 2007, 2,804 for 2008, 2,914 for 2009, 2,401 for 2010 and 2,706 for 2011.

The estimated 2012 figure is on par with the level registered in 2005 when the number of North refugees reached 1,382.

This year’s decrease is mainly attributable to the North’s tightened grip on the areas bordering China, the main defection route, government officials said.

The death of leader Kim Jong-il last December has affected the country’s political stability, causing the communist country to tighten its border control, they said. China’s internationally-denounced repatriation of North Korean refugees back to the oppressive country has also resulted in both China and the North strengthening their border security, they also noted.

The 2012 decrease also reflects more North Korean refugees deciding to settle down in China rather than in the South, experts said.

The total number of North Korean defectors who had settled in the South stood at 24,193 as of the end of September, according to the ministry handling inter-Korean issues.

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The border of North Korea and China are naturally marked by two rivers:  the Yalu and the Tumen.  These bodies of water serve as one obstacle for North Koreans trying to escape to freedom via China.  As it is nearly impossible for refugees to cross the border between North and South Korea (a two mile wide strip of land called the Demilitarized Zone:  the most heavily guarded border in the world), an escapee’s only option is to flee north.

However, in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees across their border, the Chinese government has constructed a massive, 880 mile concrete and barbed wire fence.  The border is patrolled by Chinese military personnel, waiting to capture potential defectors and send them back to  North Korea– where certain prison sentences, torture, and possibly execution await them.

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