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North Korean Defectors Tell of Hardships and Hope

A North Korean asylum seeker's child waves to journalists from a bus after arrival at Incheon International airport in South Korea on 27 January 2003.

As the number of North Korean defectors has grown in recent years, their stories have shed light on the secretive country they fled and the trials of adjusting to life outside their closed society.

The South Korean Unification Ministry says there are more than 18,000 North Koreans living in the South. UNHCR and the U.S. State Department estimates 30,000 or more are stuck in China or the Russian Far East.

VOA's Jim Stevenson had the opportunity to talk with two North Korean defectors and brings us their stories in this four-part series: North Korean Defectors Tell of Hardships and Hope

Part 1 - A look at life inside North Korea as portrayed by two men who spoke recently to VOA about fleeing their homeland in search of a better life.

Part 2 - The journey out of North Korea does not immediately lead to a better situation for most defectors.

Part 3 - Two defectors' discuss their thoughts on how the two Koreas might be reunified.

Part 4 - In the final part of this series, Jim Stevenson reports how Korean reunification might follow the examples of other nations.

Watch Previous VOA TV Reporting on North Korean Refugees

North Korean Defectors Risk Lives in Perilous Journey

For North Korean Defectors, Freedom Brings Fear of Unknown

South Korean Training Center Reorients North Koreans To Life In Freedom

South Korean School Helps North Koreans