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Oh Kil-nam, double defector, on the BBC

Oh Kil-nam

Interesting interview with Oh Kil-nam on the BBC website. Oh defected from the South to the North with his family (partly at the persuasion of composer Yun Isang), realised his mistake and defected back – on his own. His wife and daughters (now known as the Daughters of Tongyeong) got sent to Yodok. You can listen to the podcast too.

One thought on “Oh Kil-nam, double defector, on the BBC

    • Jason C Verney Interesting and sad… 🙁
    • Han Eui-jong Many Korean artists n musicians studying and residing in the continental Europe had a terrible time during the 60s and 70s….they were under the suspicion of espionage indiscriminately. The 동백림 사건 (Dong baek Lim incidents/affairs, 1967)… Poor him.
    • Han Eui-jong Now I heard this on BBC..his case is quite different than the most cases that I knew of the East Berlin (dong baek lim) affairs of 1967. Oh VOLUNTARILY chose to go to NK in that harsh and sensitive Iron Curtain Era as his time in Germany was coming to an end to return to SK.

      Oh thought that he was invited as a high rank researcher by NK and that his wife would have excellent free medicare for life. Of course you can guess what the outcome of the NK promises would be.

      I wonder if Mr Oh was tortured by SK on his eventual return to SK, if his wife is still alive in NK, and where in NK the two daughters live if they survived…. A very sad story which free countries cannot fathom all the ins and outs.

      I dream a day when ordinary folks like me move around freely btn NK and SK. I want to see Mt Geum gang (Diamond) and Mt Paekdu (Baekdoo) when travelling is allowed.

    • Philip Gowman I think they live in Yodok. Yun Isang (who was caught up in the East Berlin Spy affair) is said to have been instrumental in persuading Oh to defect to the north.
      Tongyeong struggles with composer’s legacy
    • Han Eui-jong Thank you. Yes, the short time allocation on BBC did not do any justice on the facts which were written in the above article. However, his wife had misgivings according to Oh’s comments.

      How come Yun then did not look out for/look after them if he instigated like that and he himself lived a cushy and privilaged life..
      A man of honour indeed or what!!

    • Philip Gowman Well, Oh defected back from the DPRK in 1992, and Yun (born 1917) died in 1997. So maybe he he did not have the strength. And although the NORKs didn’t deliver on their promises, it sounds like it wasn’t TOO bad for the Oh family (before Oh Kil-nam defected back, that is). They had just made a very stupid mistake in 1985.
    • Han Eui-jong ‎1985… hope somehow he could see his family in NK …
    • Philip Gowman Whether you believe the Norks or not, here’s an update:
      Pyongyang says defector’s wife died
    • Han Eui-jong Inevitable in the harsh enviroment. A v. sad situation whatever the outcome might be for everybody concerned

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