Aug. 18 - Returning North Korean defectors appear to be welcomed home with kindness instead of punishment.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3 AND EDITED KRT MATERIAL It used to be the case that for North Koreans who defected to the South and then returned would be met with severe punishment. But North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be trying to change that...with kindness. One defector who returned, seen here flanked by her family members, spoke during a media event broadcast on national television. Our dear general Kim Jong-un did not scold me, who committed an indelible sin.He warmly embraced me with his warm heart." Some 25,000 people have fled North Korea since a deadly famine in the 1990's that killed about one million people. But many defectors find life hard in the South and struggle to fit in. And if they return now, it seems, they are welcomed home. Although Kim has seemed to eliminate retribution for returning defectors, he has tightened security at border areas and has upped the punishment on those who try to escape. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) RESEARCH FELLOW AT THE KOREA INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL UNIFICATION, CHO JUNG-HYUN, SAYING: "There is numerous evidence that Kim Jong-un ordered strict punishments for defection and crossing rivers. On the other hand, under what's called "benevolent politics", the regime keeps sending out a message of embracing without punishing those who left in tough times." Last year the number of defectors entering South Korea nearly halved from some 2700 to just over 1500 and during the first quarter of this year, the monthly average of new defectors was down 15 percent from last year.