Thursday, May 14, 2009

1st North Korean Defector living in Gangwondo

Here is a man who just seems comfortable.

From the Chosun, comes a biography of Rhee Young-gwang, the first defector from North Korea.  His defection is particularly interesting as North Korea was doing better economically at the time.


As a 21-year-old North Korean soldier, Rhee Young-gwang crossed the border and came to South Korea in the night of Sept. 18, 1967, just three months after he entered the military. At a press conference one month afterwards, Rhee said, "I came here to travel the world." Intelligence agents and journalists alike had a hard time with his seemingly preposterous reason for defection at the height of the Cold War. 

Now, 42 years later, Rhee is living deep in the mountain in Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, having chosen a philosophical life in nature rather than globetrotting.

Rhee Young-gwang (right) and his wife, Park An-jaRhee Young-gwang (right) and his wife, Park An-ja

But travel is still on his mind. "My dream is to sail from the East Sea down to the South Sea and then to the Yellow Sea and reach the Yalu and Tumen Rivers in a rubber boat when the Koreas are unified. Then I would like to go to Fiji and live peacefully until I die," Rhee says.


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