North Korea is trying to woo back defectors with promises of cash rewards and TV appearances instead of one-way tickets to the gulags where an estimated 200,000 of their countrymen languish, defectors in Seoul tell Reuters. Around 25,000 defectors live in South Korea and some of them say their families have been visited by security agents who say their loved ones will not be harmed if they return.
There have been at least six press events over the last year featuring returning defectors, who pledge their loyalty to Kim Jong Un and talk about how miserable their lives in the South were. "Defectors all watch these press conferences. We know it's better to live here but the loneliness and hardship makes us feel like wanting to go back," says one defector who runs a radio station in Seoul that broadcasts to the North. It's not clear what happens to the defectors after their TV appearances.