North Korean athletes face hellish GULAGS for DEFECTING at Winter Olympics

Saturday, February 10, 2018
By Paul Martin

NORTH Korean athletes face hellish gulags if they use the Winter Olympics as a chance to defect to the South, an expert has warned.

By David Rivers
10th February 2018

The Pyeongchang Games kicked off on Friday in a lavish opening ceremony, with 22 athletes from the communist state set to compete.

Sportsmen and women from the North and South even marched under a “unified” flag, despite leader Kim Jong-un riling rival leaders with a string of ICBM strikes.

But there is still a possibility athletes may use the Games to permanently escape the regime, an expert warns, and the consequences of an unsuccessful attempt are truly terrifying.

Under extreme circumstances, an athlete defecting could be thrown into a camp and subject to vicious hard labour.

And even if the punishment is less severe, athletes and their families still face punishment by having their livelihood dragged through the mud.

Expert in Asian security, Chris Ogden, told Daily Star Online: “It could be severe punishment for defecting.

“It would depend on the situation I think, but certainly the leaders would not be happy about it.

“Reeducation camp, hard labour. If someone did try to defect but they were stopped, they could be sent to a prison camp.”

The Hermit Kingdom is plagued by defections to the South on a regular basis.

A total of 1,127 made the escape in 2017, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, down from nearly 3,000 in 2,941 in 2009 – with tighter border controls cited.

Harrowing footage released last year shows a soldier make a mad dash for freedom while being shot at, before he was pulled to safety by South Korean soldiers.

Mr Ogden adds athletes are likely to be privileged so may have less motive to escape, but says it cannot be ruled out.

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