“The secret police ... pushed me so hard against the wall that I had blood coming from my head.”
— The teenage prisoner, now 22, from Hyesan. She escaped from North Korea in 2013.
“Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course I didn’t charge them — they were my protection.”
— The drug dealer, 46, from Hoeryong. He escaped in 2014.
“I once went for six months without getting any salary at all.”
— The construction worker, now 40, from Pyongyang. He escaped in 2015.
“When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today?”
— The phone connector, 49, from Hoeryong. She escaped in 2013.
“We would stand up in class and say, ‘Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.’”
— The elementary schoolgirl, 7, from Ryongchon. She escaped in July 2017.
In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who escaped the brutal regime of the “Great Successor.”