How does North Korea prevent their ambassadors/diplomats living abroad from defecting?

  • There's an implicit assumption here which is that the more exposure you have to the truth about North Korea the more likely you are to defect.

    With that assumption out in the open, my question is about the North Korean diplomats who live abroad around the world. Presumably it's difficult for North Korea to prevent them absorbing information and media from the outside world. Perhaps their computers are connected to the (unrestricted) internet, or they can use computers outside the embassy.

    Do we know whether defection from embassies is a problem for North Korea? Do we know whether North Korea implements any measures to prevent it? Is it not a problem because my assumption at the top is incorrect?

    I would assume it would be based on threat of death. Remember Kim Jong Nam?

    @Charlie Indeed - it was watching a documentary about him that prompted this question. He's quite a different value target from a run-of-the-mill diplomat though.

    Same documentary I watched I think

    If you were a well-to-do diplomat with a good health care plan, would you defect so that you could work at 7-11, struggle to make ends meet, and have poor access to doctors? The people sent over seas are elites - and they are accustomed to living well. Changing to a jobless immigrant would require a real motivation.

    Besides the preventative measures mentioned in the answers, I suspect they try to select only very loyal people to be diplomats, so they're less likely to be swayed.

    I guess having a beloveed family in North Korea *dramatically* reduces the temptation for defecting...

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is currently unanswerable as it is unknowable to any of us what happens inside the DPRK.

    @gerrit Lots of people study the DPRK. Lots of people visit and manage to smuggle information out. People defect and speak to the West. I think "unknowable" is a bit of a stretch.

    Your implicit assumption is obviously wrong. Do the exposure about the truth of workers abuse among high-level managers make them defect capitalism? Apparently not, because they are those, who profit from that abuse.

    Your initial assumption is flawed. Not every man on earth dreams about betraying its home for jeans and bubblegum.

  • Bobson

    Bobson Correct answer

    4 years ago

    There have been a few high-profile ambassadors who did actually defect, the highest being the deputy ambassador in London in 2016. As user4012's answer speculated, the regime does hold family members hostage. From the article:

    North Korean diplomats generally must leave one member of their immediate family in Pyongyang — the regime’s insurance against defections — and it was not clear whether Thae had managed to take all of his family with him.

    I remember hearing a snippet of an interview recently, where he talked about this, as well.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM