April 8th, 2013
09:55 PM ET

North Korean defectors beaten, killed

Many North Koreans are desperate to escape their homeland, willing to risk their lives to get out. A movement of activists is trying to help, but the mission is dangerous. If caught fleeing or assisting others leave, the punishment is possible torture and execution.

Anderson Cooper talks to Jim Butterworth about his film "Seoul Train," which documents the perilous journey for four adults and a toddler who escape into neighboring China. It's a rare look inside the lives of ordinary North Koreans seeking freedom.

Butterworth's sources tell him that agents from North Korea infiltrate China to go after defectors and the activists in the underground railroad.

"China does not want the North Korean regime to collapse. That would mean unification, but before that occurred, you would have millions of desperate hungry refugees streaming across the North Korean border into China, upsetting a region that's already politically unstable to some extent inside China," he says.

Watch the interview to see a clip from "Seoul Train" and learn more about the dire conditions in North Korea.

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Filed under: North Korea
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Mark G

    I recently read about the North Korean prisons and labor camps. It's absolutely gut wrenching and not too different from the horrors of concentration camps during WW2. A number of books from former prisoners are available on Amazon and I was just mortified to read about the exceedingly evil tactics displayed by the North Korean government. I just don't know what can be done without a full scale war to topple the government. Using words such cruel, unjust, subhuman, slavery, tortuous are gross understatements. I really hope the media gets on this topic as best as they can and policy makers around the world take note sooner rather than later.

    May 6, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  2. Paul Nolet

    China has a beautiful culture but when it comes to their support of N. Korea they shame themselves.

    April 20, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  3. Dale Weston

    I'm assuming that North Korea, under its "Dear Leader," is a "workers' paradise" akin to the former Soviet Union of the Cold War days...

    April 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  4. Hank Song

    The mother and child eventually made it to freedom to South Korea. The girl, Hanmi, also met Pres. GW Bush in 2006 in Washington DC...

    April 10, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Erin Bush

    What happened to the woman and her child???

    April 10, 2013 at 1:00 am |
  6. Melody

    Very sad.

    April 10, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  7. janice

    what happened to that woman and child that didn't make it pass the gates of the embassy?

    April 8, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Patricia E.

      The woman and child were let go as well as the family where they traveled safely to S. Korea.The media got a hold of the video and made it public thankfully. I watched this documentary a few days ago. Very strong, I was unaware of the role China played in all this. China should be ashamed of themselves and banned from going to any UN or Peace meetings. They send hundreds if not thousands of N. Korean's back in a span of a month but then again China sacrificed it's own people for Economic prosperity.

      April 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • Kev

        Yes, I can't believe a country would turn back people trying to escape a corrupt government, people trying to remove their families from an environment of senseless drug violence, or people that can't feed their families and are just looking for a better life. Oh wait.. that's what we do too. I guess we can't go to those meetings either..

        April 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  8. Lauretta Pedhirney

    A very informative read on what goes on in the camps in North Korea: Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden

    April 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm |

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