Eight men said to be from North Korea have been found washed ashore on the northern coast of Japan after their boat broke down. According to Hachiro Okonogi, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission the men claim they were fishing before the boat broke down.

The boat had a plate bearing the word “Chongjin” — the name of a city in northeastern North Korea — in Hangul letters. The men are believed to have left North Korea approximately a month ago. Initially, they were thought to be defectors from the so-called hermit kingdom as their washup on the shores of Japan occurred just days after the dramatic defection of a North Korean soldier shot five times while making a run for the South Korean side of the border through the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone.


North Korean soldiers fired at him some 40 times though he was only hit with five of those shots with bullets from both pistols and an AK-47, in violation of the armistice agreement between the two countries after the Korean War.

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The 8 North Korean fishermen vehemently deny that they are defecting however, others speculate that the fishermen may fear harsh punishment from North Korean government officials under the reign of Kim Jong Un should they return. North Korea has been plagued by famine and poor conditions for years. Since the famine hit in 1995, between 300,000 and 800,000 North Koreans have died each year from malnutrition and related diseases.


The condition of the recently defected North Korean soldier reveals much as due to his wounds extensive and immediate surgery was required. That surgery revealed multiple forms of parasitic worms in a large number, with some up to 10 inches long. One type is typically found in dogs. Lee Cook-Jong – the South Korean surgeon that performed his surgery stated of the soldier’s condition –


“In my 20 years as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a medical textbook.”

The soldier was also found to have hepatitis B, which is generally considered a good indication of a country’s poor sterilization practices in hospitals. It is speculated that the health of these 8 fishermen is in similar condition.

Escape from North Korea’s communist regime is virtually always a perilous one.  One with thousands of miles on buses or sneaking on foot through mountains and valleys amid falling snow or torrential rain, or by boat into open and many times dangerous open waters all in the desperate quest to evade border police and start a new life in freedom where basic necessities such as uncontaminated food are not luxuries.

Since hostilities ceased after the Korean Conflict in 1953 some 300,000 North Koreans are estimated to have defected from King Jong Un’s reign of terror in the tightly controlled hermit country. Official statistics published by the Ministry of Unification have documented just over 30,000 defectors since 1998. That year, at the height of the starvation and famine that claimed over one million lives in the North, the government registered 302 males and 116 females — a total of 947 North Korean defectors. Roughly 225 refugees have been granted direct asylum in the United States from North Korea as a result of former president George W. Bush signing into the law the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. The law was intended to promote freedom and human rights to those fleeing the dictatorship. There are believed to be several hundred illegal North Korean immigrants also residing across the United States.

Vernon Brewer, founder and president of World Help, a Christian humanitarian organization that supports the defectors, states –

Meanwhile, South Korean law grants those fleeing the terror of the North automatic citizenship after a mandatory three-month transition involving debriefing and education in order to prepare them for lives in a much more free society.

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