20 Julio 2017 16:05
Her look of anguish suggests she was forced to return to North Korea
Jeon Hye-sung fled North Korea in 2014. She became a celebrity in South Korea, and would appear regularly on TV until she recently went missing.
In South Korea she was known as Lim Ji-hyun. She appeared on TV talk shows frequently to talk about life in North Korea. Sometimes she would dress in military uniform and mock the country she had escaped from. She even had her own fan club.
However, in April, Lim Ji-hyun disappeared while on a 'shopping and business' trip to China. She was travelling on her South Korean passport. Nothing was heard from her until last weekend when she reappeared – as Jeon Hye-sung once again – in a video posted on North Korea's propaganda channel, uriminzokkiri.
In the video, Jeon Hye-sung claims that she returned to North Korea of her own free will (without stating specifying how she re-entered the nation), and adds that she had only criticised the Kim Jong-un regime because she was forced to by South Korean TV broadcasters.
She says that she went to the South, 'led by fantasy that I could eat well and make a lot of money.' But, she adds, 'in the country where everything is judged by money, I was haunted by physical and psychological pain... Now I'm in the motherland, staying with my parents in Anju, South Pyongan Province.'
But her facial expression contradicts her words. This is especially evident in this video montage, which shows how relaxed she looked during her appearances on South Korean TV.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency has confirmed that officers are investigating if Jeon Hye-sung re-entered her home country willingly, but the idea seems rather doubtful. The most likely hypothesis is that she was the target of a North Korean abduction while attempting to help her family escape to China.
This appears to be a common fate among North Korean defectors: they get caught while trying to help their relatives flee over the border.