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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Kim Kwang-jin

Interviewed December 10, 2023

While working in Singapore, I had some trouble in my business so I reported it to my bosses in Pyongyang. I traveled to Pyongyang to find a solution to that problem. Several of my bosses told me that South Korean, Japanese, and American intelligence were very active in Singapore, and very important information was being leaked from our representative office.

I took that as a signal that I would be in big trouble. So I traveled back to Singapore very quickly, and talked to my wife. I told her that this is the signal that I was in trouble. I asked her to follow me. I told her of my decision to defect from North Korea, and she accepted that. So the next day we decided to leave Singapore and defect to Seoul.

We went to the South Korean embassy, and at that time, my bosses told me that it had been reported to Kim Jong Il. So I took it as a very serious problem, and I also sensed that they pointed a finger at me as the guy who leaked this information.

I decided to defect, and it did not take too much time for me to come to Seoul.

[Kim Jong Il (1941 – 2011) succeeded his father and led North Korea from 1994 until his death in 2011.]

I was very critical of the North Korean regime and was blamed in many cases of talking with foreigners about North Korea and its system. Not the leaders of course, but indirectly I spoke ill of the North Korean system. I thought that these kinds of accusations were the problem.

Ever since I arrived in Seoul, I have been working for the [Institute for National Security Strategy]. It was formerly the Security Policy Research Institute and to this day I am involved in matters of national security. The place that I work for is run by the [South] Korean government. It is a policy institute that looks into North Korea and national security matters.

I am doing many other external activities. I am a columnist at Radio Free Asia. There is a program (corner) called “Kim Kwang-jin’s story of Daedong-gang”. In that corner, we provide programs that help explain North Korea via North Korean humor and slang and it is also used to educate North Korean people [by providing them] outside information.