PANMUNJOM, South Korea — Friday's summit between North and South Korea came to an unexpected halt after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un used his brief landmark visit to South Korea to defect across the demilitarized zone, sources confirmed today.
Kim crossed the border surrounded by numerous bodyguards and handlers. When this group briefly departed to enable a photo with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim furtively glanced around before dashing at a startled Moon, screaming “I wish to defect!”
Sources close to the U.S. and South Korean governments say Mr. Kim is freely talking about his life as what he calls, "a modern slave," imprisoned in the North for more than 30 years.
Kim harshly condemned North Korea's lack of social mobility due to its rigid and feudal songbun system, an official set of social castes which forced him to perform the same job as his father and grandfather.
“I wanted to be an actor," Kim reportedly said. "Or perhaps a professional athlete. My hero was Shaq. But because of my songbun I was trapped in my horrible job until I died, with no hope of promotion, all because of things my grandfather did before I was even born.”
“Your songbun determines your food ration too," Kim went on, "and they don’t care if it kills you. They don’t care if you’ve eaten it all. They just bring you more and more and more. Too much protein, too much fat, too much sugar. You get heart disease? They don’t care. Gout? Diabetes? They don’t care.”
A South Korean official said that the doctors attending Kim were initially concerned that he might not survive. However, after they slowly introduced vegetables to his diet, he seems to have stabilized.
Another North Korean defector, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Kim was most likely suffering from extreme post-traumatic stress. It is a common condition among North Korean defectors, caused by the constant fear of the police state and informants, followed by the shock of discovering the truth.
“At all times of the day, you feel watched," a visibly emotional Kim said during a brief interview before returning to treatment. "Everyone you meet is staring at you and trying to determine what’s going on in your head: your neighbors, your family, your army commanders, your nuclear scientists... even your own mistresses. You never know who to trust, so you don’t really trust anybody.”
“The worst part is the rallies," Kim complained. "They feel like they’re every day. Everyone is fake cheering, so you have to fake cheer as well so you don’t stick out. And now some fool cheers extra loud or smiles extra big, so you have to get into this arms race of smiling and cheering so it doesn’t look like you’re faking it, until your voice is raw and tears are pouring down your face. Then you get behind a closed door and just collapse from the exhaustion of being terrified all the time.”
“I was like a frightened animal with big twitching ears, always on the lookout for predators,” he added, his voice breaking slightly, before being taken away by his doctor.
Despite all the attention of the press, Kim’s doctor has become fiercely protective of him.
“He is a normal man like you or me, but who has had terrible crimes committed against him,” said Kim’s doctor. “At first, he would wake up screaming. He was terrified that he had just dreamed the defection, and that that he’d have to go be the grand marshal of a parade or go watch a missile launch.”
“I tied a Republic of Korea flag to the end of his bed so he would wake up, see it, and know right away, 'No, I’m safe now.'”
Duffel Blog investigative reporter G-Had contributed to this report.