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Defection ST Louis Nolan Arenado shirt . from North Korea comes at a monumental cost, with defectors having to instantly sever ties from all family left in their home nation. The regime often punishes nuclear and extended families of defectors to deter people from leaving, Ryu said — especially diplomats. Those posted abroad are often forced to leave a child at home as a hostage, ensuring their parents do not defect. “I think that North Korea having such feudal collective familial punishment in the 21st century is appalling,” Ryu said. He is now worried about his three siblings and 83-year-old mother still in North Korea. “I just want to see them live long,” Ryu said. “Any thought of them being punished for what I’ve done just hurts my heart.”
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He also worries for his wife’s elderly parents living in Pyongyang ST Louis Nolan Arenado shirt . Ryu and his wife both came from North Korea’s ruling elite. His father-in-law ran Office 39, a branch of the North Korean government a former employee likened to a “slush fund” for the Kim family. Nominally, it is in charge of getting hard currency for the cash-strapped regime. North Korea has long been accused of using its embassies as cash cows for the ruling Kim family. Ryu said that while he was a trained diplomat dealing with politics, there were also “economic trading workers” assigned to diplomatic posts. They were given a quota on the amount of money they must make for the state, Ryu added. Kuwait was a particularly important revenue stream for Pyongyang, as the Persian Gulf nation used to employ about 10,000 North Korean laborers. Those workers were allegedly treated like modern-day slaves, and experts say almost all of their earnings were funneled back to the government, paying for Kim regime priorities such as the nuclear program. Ryu said only China and Russia were bigger cash earners for the regime from North Korean laborers than the Gulf nations of Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE — at least until 2017, when the United Nations punished Pyongyang for its repeated missile and nuclear tests by barring nations from employing its workers. “Due to the UN resolution, most laborers in the Gulf region left,” he said. Ryu also was posted to Syria, a close ally of North Korea, from 2010 to 2013. While Ryu was charged with overseeing relations with Syrian politicians, his countrymen were selling conventional weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime, including long-range multiple launcher artillery and anti-aircraft weapons systems. However, Ryu said the country’s bloody civil war forced Pyongyang to pull its personnel from the country. He said he had not heard of any new weapons deals with the Syrians since leaving the country.
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