Fear, surveillance, vetting: How North Korea is guarding against Olympic defections

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Seoul, South Korea (CNN)Almost 500 North Koreans remain in South Korea for the Winter Olympics– in a land they have actually been raised to view as opponent area; one plainly more thriving and more totally free than their own.

The group of professional athletes, authorities, cheerleaders, press reporters and entertainers– consisting of the more youthful sis of Kim Jong Un — will be surrounded by assistance personnel, minders and informants. They’re likewise most likely to be vetted, devoted and well-treated members of North Korea’s elite.
North Korean professional athletes have actually defected prior to. A ladies’s ice hockey gamer defected in 1997 and a judo professional athlete defected while at a competitors in Spain in 1999.
      While not likely, it isn’t really difficult for a member of North Korea’s Pyeongchang delegation to problem as the world sees the Games– and it would be both a substantial humiliation for the North, and geopolitical mess for host South Korea.

      Defections not likely

      Now residing in South Korea after defecting in 2006, Han Seo-hee was selected in her twenties to be part of a North Korean cheerleading performers after she carried out for late leader Kim Jong Il.
      She states it’s not likely that cheerleaders would problem throughout such a prominent see.
      The group would be kept an eye on all over they go and would be acutely knowledgeable about the effects their household back house would deal with were they to make such a relocation, Han states.
      “I would not have actually even considered it.” Han states. “It will be the exact same for the cheerleading team this time. They have household back home, they understand if they problem, their household will be frightened and penalized.”
      “A North Korean group sent out abroad is constantly made up of 3 celebrations. Celebration members, security members and administrative members. This time will be the very same.”

      Intensive training

      The North Koreans currently in Pyeongchang have actually been gone after by media all over they go.
      In a lot of cases, they offer disciplined smiles and little reaction to the barrage of concerns– although at Thursday’s inviting event for North Koreans at the Gangneung professional athletes town a few of the delegation were noticeably unwinding as the event advanced, even providing the Olympic mascot Soohorang high fives.
      Han stated she was informed not to talk if she travelled, to neglect reporters’ concerns and not to make eye contact.
      “We were informed that we would be sent out to South Korea not just to cheerlead however likewise to boast about our leader. We were informed that we must take the battle to the heart of our opponents.”


      The North Korean professional athletes have actually taken 3 floorings of lodging in the Gangneung Olympics town. Each home has 2 or more beds — the North Koreans would not be remaining in spaces alone, inning accordance with the previous law enforcement officer.
      The professional athletes have actually made their existence understood by hanging from a window a huge North Korean flag that covers all 3 floorings. Such a relocation that might land you in prison on a typical day, however these Olympic Games are not typical and the flag is permitted by the International Olympic Committee.
      The carrying out art performers has actually been remaining aboard the Man Gyong Bong ferryboat which brought them to the South today– a simple method to safeguard the North Korean orchestra from both protestors and temptation.
      But Han states those within the performers would be from a ‘great background’ and devoted to the routine so ideas of defection would be not likely.

      Scrutiny continues back house

      Lee Chul-sung, the head of South Korean authorities in charge of security for the Games, states North Korea was not permitted to bring its own main security and he has actually arranged a different field group to accompany North Korean delegations anywhere they go.
      “I would not presume regarding state the professional athletes are separated, however they are separated from the other professional athletes. We will have additional security for them.”
      Lee states there are likewise South Korean guards completely outside their living quarters to keep the delegations protect. Little demonstrations have actually appeared anywhere they go, with some in South Korea upset the door has actually been opened to North Korea without the nation needing to make any concessions on its nuclear rocket program.
      The North Korean ex-police officer informed CNN the security surrounding the North Korea group, authorities and entertainers would be hidden and the intelligence officers would have titles like assistance personnel.
      The examination and security likewise would not reduce up when they were back house, he states.
      The professional athletes, cheerleaders and entertainers would undergo debriefs, evaluations, and examinations to learn how everyone represented their nation to the outdoors world.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/09/asia/north-korea-olympic-defection-fears-intl/index.html

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