Via a reader tip comes this unsurprising, but still interesting read about the propaganda play the North Koreans were able execute by likely using the son of a North Korea defector as blackmail:
This summer, a 66-year-old woman surfaced at a news conference in North Korea to tell of her jubilant homecoming after six years in the “miserable” South.
As a private citizen and a defector, the woman, Pak Jong Suk, made for an unlikely national symbol. But she also had the pitch-perfect tale for an authoritarian North Korea straining for new ways to make its people love their leader and stay within the country’s borders.
Pak appeared at an 80-minute news conference at a palace in Pyongyang and was later featured in a six-part series carried by the state-run news agency. At times weepy, at times ecstatic, Pak — one of the only cases on record of a defector returning to the North, according to South Korean government officials — described her hardships in the “corrupt” money-crazed South and apologized for having left. She credited the North’s young supreme leader, Kim Jong Eun, for his “tenderhearted” forgiveness of her traitorous crimes.
But those who knew Pak in South Korea, as well as South Korean government officials, say there’s a dark side to Pak’s rise to propaganda stardom. Her story, they say, is largely false and probably state-fed, and it exposes North Korea’s willingness to manipulate a citizen who returned not because she yearned for her homeland but because she feared for the safety of the son she left behind. [Washington Post]
You can read the rest of the article at the link, but the thing to remember is that the story obviously sounds suspect to those of us outside of North Korea. However, the North Korean regime doesn’t care how the story sounds to outsiders; what they care about is how the story sounds to their domestic audience in order to try and reduce the amount of defectors fleeing the country. I am willing to bet that many people in North Korea watching the news conference felt she was making her confession under duress, but it reinforced a message to North Koreans that the regime will punish family members to get back at those who defect.