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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Defector Makes a Living Diving the NLL

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SPEDDI
SPEDDI = Sustainable Peace, Economic Development, Democracy, and Innovation. Charles Park has a BA in Political Economy of Industrial Societies (PEIS) from UC Berkeley (1991) and an MA in Pacific and International Affairs from the School of Global Policy, UC San Diego (1995).

In this documentary video Old Marine Boy: Diving on the Border With North Korea by Jin Mo-Young and presented by Al Jazeera (October 17, 2018), a diver/defector from Chongjin, North Korea makes a living diving in the southern side of the NLL (the disputed Northern Limit Line) dividing DPRK and ROK.

He says that at first, the South Koreans took pity on him. But after he started his own business, the South Koreans saw him as a competitor.

To be sure, he has to struggle without “support network” in an alien and sometimes hostile land. He believes that things are stacked against defectors and he constantly worries about the future.

The film showcases his struggle as something unique to him, but to be sure, such struggles are part of the life of anyone making a living a market economy. Everyone has to struggle and worry about the future in isolation. (It should go without saying that even in socialist countries, people also struggle and worry about the future.)

As a diver though, certainly he has a unique set of risks he faces. But his life is likely similar to any number of small-time South Koreans who make a living off the sea. It’s a risky business.

The video highlights one risk he faces that’s different from the average South Korean’s diving in the sea.

If he ventures too close to the border with North Korea, he could run afoul of one of the [North Korean] warships that patrol the area. And he understands only too well what this would mean; Park is a defector from North Korea.

After spending 20 years in the North Korean military, Park persuaded his wife that they should flee with their two sons. He cannot forget the fear he felt that night, but life in South Korea hasn’t quite provided the peace of mind he’d hoped for.

Click on the link (Old Marine Boy: Diving on the Border With North Korea) and see the nice 47-minute documentary video.

By Al Jazeera
Photo credit: Screen capture from the video

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