Politician Tells North Korean Defector He Betrayed His Country

Lim Su-kyung at a Pyongyang festival

Lim Su-kyung in Pyongyang, 1989

The Korean netisphere has been a buzz over the weekend as revelations emerge that a Korean politician, Lim Su-kyung, told a North Korean defector who happened to be dining in the same restaurant as her that he was a ‘son of a bitch’, a ‘senseless North Korean defector’ and a ‘bastard betrayer’.

Lim, the so-called “flower of unification”, illegally entered North Korea in August 1989 (see below video) during her student years to participate in the “World Festival of Youth and Students“. Upon arriving back into the South through the truce village of Panmunjom, she was arrested. She’s long been considered a symbol of North-South Korean Unification, so publicly defaming her (or her public defamation of others) will come as a confusing surprise to many Koreans.

Lim Su-kyung returns from North Korea

Lim Su-kyung returns from North Korea.

According to Paek Yosep, the North Korean defector-turned-human rights advocate that was dining at the same restaurant as Lim, he simply wanted to take a photo with her, whom he regarded highly as a fellow Hankuk University of Foreign Studies alumni and whom he remembered from her trip to North Korea. However, when he revealed his North Korean identity, she burst out into a fit of swearing, dubbing him a ‘betrayer’. He subsequently decided to upload an account of the incident onto his Facebook page that has since gone viral attracting hundreds of shares and comments.

Lim Su-kyung was dubbed the "flower of unification"

Lim Su-kyung was dubbed the "flower of unification"

The scandal is sending shock-waves across the internet and comes at a time when the heated debate on expelling lawmakers who harbour pro-North Korean sentiment is at its height (much to the discontent of North Korea) – which has even led one conservative to go as far as swearing on live television to express his feelings against the North. In a country where the slightest suggestion of being pro-North Korean is a highly sensitive social taboo, this will come as a blow to the more liberal Democrats (Lim’s party) who lost against the conservative Saenuri Party (the party of choice for many defectors who are anti-North Korean) in the last parliamentary elections.

As the scandal developed on Sunday, she tweeted that Paek had used the words “execution by firing squad” which had hit her nerves and had led her to act so aggressively. She claimed she would personally explain what she meant later – and that her remarks do not mean she that is a “commie“.

From YouTube:

Korean portal websites have been buzzing, with right-wing forums expressing outrage suggesting the Democratic United Party has crossed the line one time too many (as covered on koreaBANG here and here), while leftist forums are more forgiving, with some suggesting the whole thing is a fabricated conspiracy. Overall, netizens were disgusted with the idea of a communist possibly lurking within their own government’s ranks. The story has generated enough attention to be top ranked news on all three Korean portal sites.


Lim Su-kyung meeting Kim Il-sung in 1989

From Facebook: (now offline)

The following is how it all started.

On Friday evening, June 1st, I went out with close personal acquaintance to Jongro to have some dinner in a restaurant. However, [at the restaurant] I unexpectedly saw Lim Su-kyung sitting across from our table with 2 or 3 other male guests drinking alcohol.

Though we are personally of different political tendencies, she went to the same university as me and not only that, I have always known her as the ’flower of unification’ since my childhood in the North, so being a big fan of hers, I had always thought to myself that one day I must take a picture with her. Despite my acquaintance trying to dissuade me, I mustered the courage to ask Lim Su-kyung to have a photo together and to my great delight she accepted.

On that day, at that time, I wanted to respect Lim Su-kyung as my school senior, and it is that pure motivation that led me to ask her to take memorable pictures. We took 3 or 4 pictures with her beautiful smile, and I left the table saying, ‘Thank you. Have fun.’

However shortly after, one of the waiters came up to me and said that Lim Su-kyung wanted to exchange cups with me.

I was so happy that she asked to have a glass with me, but suddenly the waiter asked to see my phone (the waiter that had taken the photo for us.), so I asked why to which he said he just wanted to delete the badly-taken photos. I didn’t think much of it so unlocked my phone and looked at what photos he was deleting.

But the waiter who had taken the photo started deleting all the photos from my phone. I warned him several times saying ‘please don’t delete everything’, and at long last he gave back my phone, but had already deleted everything. I immediately protested to the waiter by saying he had no right to delete the photos on his own initiative without asking for my permission, but then the waiter said that it was Lim Su-kyung’s assistant who had made the request.

I asked the two people sitting in front of me whether it was true that it was Lim Su-kyung’s aide who had requested for the photos to be deleted by the waiter. I asked Lim Su-kyung whether it was her who had asked directly for the photo deletion. She said ‘Did I? I never said such a thing.’

I stuck to my guns, and asked those who I thought to be her aides again ‘…what wrong have I committed by taking a photo with my great school senior?’ and I said to the waiter who had no idea what was going, that ‘saying lies such as ‘I will only delete those photos that were not taken properly’ and instead deleting information from someone’s phone on one’s own initiative is a complete infringement of one’s privacy.’

At that point, Lim Su-kyung said while laughing ‘…those guys are my aides – please understand that they are here to keep an eye out on me [to protect] against any minor civil suits.’ I immediately said ‘I understand’ and as a joke said ‘you know what would have happened in a situation like this back home in North Korea, don’t you?! ha immediate execution by firing squad. Where would they do this as they pleased, without the leader having commanded it?’ I made the somewhat awkward gag.

But then…

Lim Su-kyung facial expression suddenly hardened and said to me ‘Who are you???’

I thought she recognised me. We were on a TV show ‘Paek Ji-yeon’s Debate to Put an End to it All’ at the end of the last year. We were at odds with each other over the National Security Law issue [to abolish or not to abolish]. I was on the show as a North Korean defector university student. Since we had debated in person, naturally, I figured she recognised my face.

‘Ms Lim, we were on the Paek Ji-yeon’s debate show. I am the North Korean defector student,’ I said.

She then said:

‘Hey! You don’t know ANYTHING so don’t be so frivolous.’

‘Did you know that the Republic of Korea is a democratic republic? How dare you baseless North Korean defector talk back to me, a National Assembly member?

??? ~~!!!

Lim Su-kyung:

‘Hey, aren’t you and that Ha Tae-kyung doing that strange North Korean human rights activity thing? Ha Tae-kyung that son of a bitch, he’s a real betrayer…’

My acquaintance said I should just leave without a word.

I really just couldn’t bare it.

How dare she call us ‘betrayers’?

On whose behalf are you speaking?!!!

‘Excuse me, who? Who betrayed whom??

Ah~ You’re saying that Rep. Ha Tae-kyung and the rest of us defectors betrayed that murderer Kim Il-sung, who they all call father, right?

I’ve nothing to say whatsoever..’

Even before I finished the sentence, she got furious and started yelling at me.

‘Hey, you son of a bitch. You senseless North Korean defector, how dare you to talk back to me, a National Assembly member?? You’ve come to South Korea, so shut the fuck up, and live quietly, you bastard betrayer. You watch your back, got it???

I tried to find something to say but just couldn’t.

Finally, I said..

‘Yes, ma’am! I really appreciate for your warning on the behalf of the whoever it is.

I’ll definitely watch out for myself.

I’ll survive ‘til I die, on South Korean soil.


While I live until the day I die, I’ll be watching you..

We’ll see how this turns out to be. Ms Lim! Thank you for your time. Now I’ll leave you alone.’

And I shut my mouth.

… … …

I’d like to ask those Koreans who share the same thoughts as Lim Su-kyung:

Do we, North Korean defectors truly deserve to be called ‘betrayers to Kim Il-sung and the race’, and therefore have to live in guilt for the [North Korea’s] Workers’ Party?

Effectively in whose words, by the logic of which side, is Rep. Ha Tae-kyung a betrayer? He is a man who saw the reality of cruel North Korea, in which several millions of our compatriots die of starvation, are beaten, frozen to death, and who bravely abandoned totalitarian Kimilsungism (Juche thought).

I endured [her words] to the very end..

Seemed like I had come to the South only to become a murderer [I was so angry].

However, she was my school senior and is still a fellow Korean, so I put up with her comments.

I, as a Korean citizen, and a North Korean defector, got threatened by a member of the National Assembly.

Rep. Ha Tae-kyung, who is also a Korean got a death threat from Rep. Lim Su-kyung, saying she’s going to ‘kill him with her own hands.’

If Rep. Ha Tae-kyung and the likes who are working for North Korean human rights get killed and those he was involved with are forced to seek asylum because of people like Ms Lim, then who’s going to save my fellow North Koreans’ future? Who’s going to take responsibility for the consequences?


I went through her abusive words, over and over again. I managed to record what she said. Ms Lim, I’ll have my eye on you to the very end.


I went home and

I cried all night

I cried for us defectors, who have to put up with hearing ‘betrayers’, ‘sons of bitches’ by members of the Korean assembly. I bit my lips and mourned all night for this unfair reality.

Ah ~ how sad.


Comments from an article hosted on Nate:


How dare she call him a betrayer! Is speaking as the leadership of North Korea’s Worker’s party members or something rather than as a South Korean? I guess I’ve just skimmed through and haven’t really understood this, right?


I kind of understand what the article is trying to say, but it’s hard to read. I’d like the journalist to re-write this article [New Daily article linked above]. This is really big news.


Lim Su-kyung is a member of the Democratic United Party, not the Unified Progressive Party. Mr Paek must have confused them.


If you hate commies, then vote up! And if you ARE commies, then vote it down.


This news sounds kind of big. It’s not that important that this article’s from New Daily. Let’s look at why this news has been reported. First of all, a North Korean defector wrote this article (http://www.facebook.com/yosep2050/posts/334788433256354) on his Facebook page. Second, his Facebook friends got upset and reported it to various newspapers, one of which was New Daily that first made this news public. It is AM 06:47 right now, and the article was uploaded at AM 02:00. New Daily made a fast move. We are likely to see this news on other newspapers. The important thing is.. Mr Paek had the conversation recorded.


Ha Tae-kyung: Once a Juche follower, then he changed his position and became a North Korean human rights activist.
NK defectors: People who risked their lives to defy the North Korean regime and escaped from the North.
Lim Su-kyung says: Ha Tae-kyung and NK defectors are betrayers keke How dare you talk back to me, a National Assembly member!
Who is Lim Su-kyung? The one who ventured to cross the 38 parallel and met Kim Il-sung without the infamous military government’s permission. She is one of those stupid Juche followers and a DUP member. ke ke 90 percent of UPP is commies and a half of DUP is also commie ke ke ke The glass is half full of commies! ke ke What’ll be the fate of South Korea? ke ke ke


Nate surely is left-dominated. It’s full of commies ke ke ke ke


No word can be used other than commies


Make an illegal cross-over to the North and have some jail time for it, and scream out loud for repeal of the National Security Law, then you’ll get a seat at the National Assembly. I’m pretty sure Lim Su-kyung will demand for repeal of the National Security Law, until she dies.


The one who made Han Myung-sook a National Assembly member, Ms Han who’s been a spy in cooperation with her husband, who also made Lim Su-kyung a National Assembly member, they are all members of stupid Jeolla party in connection with UPP.[Jeolla is a traditionally pro-liberal province]


Hey everyone! I’ve made a list of people to expel from the National Assembly.
UPP: Lee Suk-ki, Kim Jae-yun
DUP: Lim Su-kyung
Saenuri Party: Hyung-suk, Dae-sung
Isn’t it neat?


Just think, that kind of person is a politician in our country… It’s fucking frustrating..


Lim Su-kyung ke ke Isn’t she a stupid Juche follower to her core, who went to North Korea? keke She is a proportional representative of DUP. ke ke


She’s got some nerve to call the defector a ‘betrayer’ ke ke ke How dare you to talk like that to a ‘National Assembly member’ ke ke ke ke ke ke


Pro-North bastards are trying hard to fix this situation. But they have to take note: normal Koreans will not feel the same as you guys.


Let’s make this article viral. It’s huge. Lim Su-kyung you crazy commie bitch.


Lim Su-kyung kekeke She’s quite a woman. She took a round and round route from France and the East Germany to North Korea where she made it to participate in a North Korean puppet propaganda show. Hwang Sun who gave birth in North Korea cannot be a match for Ms Lim.


Wow.. Lim Su-kyung is a real-deal commie. How is it logically possible to say ‘defectors are betrayers’? Isn’t that only possible under an assumption that my mother nation is North Korea? I mean it’s scary that a woman like that is a National Assembly member. I also want them to rid the DUP of pro-North Korean members.

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  • Chucky3176

    “In a country where the slightest suggestion of being pro-North Korean is a highly sensitive social taboo”

    Are you freaking serious, Raphael? Social taboo, really?

    • James

      Well, I can claim responsibility for that since I edited it but, yes, it is a little bit of a social taboo Chucky – defectors don’t really have an easy time settling in to say the least and saying anything pro-North Korean is hardly welcomed with open arms.

      Unless you’re being sarcastic, in which case you’re suggesting that it’s worse than a social taboo?

      • Chucky3176

        First of all, you’re not going to find any North Korean defector in South Korea who thinks North Korea is great. Second, you got it backwards. How is being a pro-North Korean in South Korea, a taboo? We have an entire whole political party who are not ashamed to let everyone know they are pro-North Korean, and sizable South Korean voter support for them. If they were taboo, they wouldn’t exist.

        • James

          OK, first of all, many North Korean defectors will probably still have some sense of belonging to what they believed for many years was their homeland and, secondly, it’s not very easy for them to integrate into South Korean society when they have to reject everything they knew and suddenly become “한국사람” [South Koreans]. So, no, you’re right, defectors aren’t going to be fans of the NK government. I mean, that’s why they defected right? But they’re still going to have a sense of belonging to their hometowns in the North.

          Second, this isn’t backwards? I don’t know what you mean. There’s been a whole host of anti-NK sentiment, or rather anti-pro-NK sentiment I should say of recent times. This is understandable, especially when Pyongyang is jumping on the whole “we hate 2MB” bandwagon. But, I’m sorry Chucky, saying you’re pro-North Korean just is a social taboo in South Korea! I know you’re very proud, proud to be nationalist, but just you try walking up to a bunch of old people in Seoul and project a pro-North Korean stance, they’d tear you apart! This is referring to be pro-North Korean politically. I can agree with you that people would be pro-North Korean in the sense that they would support unification and support the fact that people from North Korea are, well, Koreans. But to imply that the majority opinion in South Korea is completely fine with anything pro-North Korea is seriously big news to me. And lots of Koreans too I should imagine.

          Anyway Chucky, as much as I disagree with your opinion, it’s good to have your voice on koreaBANG. For that, I dislike your ideas, but respect you at the same time.

          • Yorgo

            for the 50 and over crowd maybe being pro-north is taboo.

            for young people, especially at certain universities, definitely not

          • James

            For some young people, particularly those at certain universities it isn’t a taboo, yes. But, for the majority, I’m afraid it is. It’s a deeply sensitive subject. Just look at the amount of times “Jong-buk” has been mentioned this week!

          • Chucky3176

            James, the word “Jongbuk” has been mentioned awful lot because of two reasons, and it’s not because it’s a taboo subject.

            First reason, it’s election year. And the Conservative party is milking the question of loyalty of the politicians leading the unified leftist opposition parties of DUP and UPP to the maximum.

            Second, the leftist party is helping out the Conservatives as much as they can, with incredibly stupid things to say, so much so that even the most sympathetic leftist party voters can’t help question their leaders. Not only that, the left party have leaders that rigged the local April elections which were held through internet votes. The fraudsters refuse to step down which leads to more public and media scrutiny.

            And just because the media is covered with “Jongbuk”, it doesn’t mean it’s just another Cold War McCarthy Era witch hunt. Some of these guys really are suspicious, and this woman, Lim is one of them. She has been active for decades, without any consequences (other then the three years she served for breaking the National Security Law in the late 1980’s). As a figure head for the leftist parties and the Undongkwon movement, she makes no apologies about her comments that Kim Il Sung was father like to her when she visited North Korea. Throughout the 2000’s, she has been a staunch supporter of number of violent protests against the South Korean government.

            And this is the same woman who after being appointed as the DUP proportional representative lawmaker, verbally attacked a North Korean defector for betraying North Korea, with the words:

            “Defectors should just shut their mouths and live quietly in the Republic of Korea, instead of going on and on about some North Korean human rights or whatever the hell that is. Defectors with no idea should not talk back to a Republic of Korea National Assembly lawmaker. You damn traitor defectors…”

            It’s not a question of taboo against mentioning North Korea, it’s a question of who some of these lawmakers are really working for, South Korean citizens, or Pyongyang.

      • Mich’insaeki

        Raph n James, pure awesome sauce. Great work on this article. You guyz are doin great stuff on this blog. Luvin it.

        Chuck, jeebus man… you nitpick every single word in every article you ever read? Let’s move on already. Suggestion, join the staff of KBang and _you_ submit some work and we’ll go over it with a loaded fined tooth comb.

    • Chris

      I would put the subject of North Korea somewhere between “awkward to talk about around strangers” and taboo.

      One thing I found interesting is that alot of South Koreans respect Kim Il Sung for his role against the Japanese (however much propaganda may have exaggerated it).

  • Jang

    Lim Soo-kyung looks like a board hit her in the face, what 20 years will do to a Korean woman!

    “In a country where the slightest suggestion of being pro-North Korean is a highly sensitive social taboo…,”
    Yes, but I’ve been told Koreans joke with each other by calling their friend(s) they haven’t seen in a while…”빨갱이” or “Bal gang yi.”

    Wow, denigrating a N. Korean for escaping. Lim Soo-kyung is cuckoo!

    • James

      Exactly Jang, it’s still a dirty word. A social taboo if you will. I’m not sure what Chucky’s issue was here.

      Although the whole “20 years Korean woman board face” thing is a bit extreme. Are you buying up Korean nationalist rhetoric that suggests Koreans are an entirely different race? Or was it a slur against Asian people in general?

      • Chucky3176

        Must accusation of racism be the defining moment of every thread here?
        Yes, Lim hasn’t aged well over the years, and Koreans have a big flat pancake face. Is that something to do with Korean racism? I don’t understand.

        • Tippy Long Stocking

          I guess you’re in a mood to bitch and whine about everything James’ is writing today.

        • Brett Sanbon

          My wife doesn’t have “a big flat pancake face”, nor do my in-laws or close friends. The original remark seems racist to me. Why is it relevant to in this story?

        • glenn

          Chucky3176 sounds like he is venting out his anger here. ^_^ I think you are not comprehending, just overreacting.

  • Beth

    This article is surprising given Lee Myung-Bak’s speech earlier this week that Justin reported on — seems the idea of being “pro-NK” in South Korea is something that is becoming taboo or at least is becoming an issue in a way that it wasn’t previously. So in that sense, even though popular opinion as some people understand it may suggest something different, the media is definitely picking up the “danger”. If you add this to the United Progressive Party’s reform discussions, even they recognise that they are not going to get any kind of support unless they “tone-down” their policies; ie considering not supporting the withdrawal of USFK and so on. (They probably won’t do this in the end, but still.) So I have to be honest, given the current climate as it seems, it really surprised me that Lim spoke in this way to Paek…Not to mention that the whole thing is completely bizarre given that they were at a restaurant. Manners, darling.

  • Brett Sanbon

    Why would the waiter even get involved over the pictures? Why would the defector let the waiter touch, or even view, his phone?

    The entire situation seems like it was avoidable… Although I am guessing that Ms. Lim did not recognize him from the tv show and an aid filled her in on who he is after the pictures had been taken. Still, why such a bitch?

    • glenn

      I was wondering the same thing. If somebody tries to delete stuff on my phone, my instant reaction would be to snatch it from him.

      For Ms. Lim: The way she speaks is strangely quite similar as to how the NORTH KOREAN governments talks to/treats the defectors. Threats and accusations of betrayal, sounds like she is on the wrong side of the peninsula. Perhaps she can tak ethe place of the announcer of NK National TV

      Good thing it was recorded. Now, it’s time for SK people to decide or judge their representatives.

      • lamster

        “Threats and accusations of betrayal, sounds like she is on the wrong side of the peninsula.”
        Hey either side is still Korea. she is entitled to Both sides. Why are you trying to split the Korean race?

        • Brett Sanbon

          I don’t think glenn is “trying to split the Korean race”. As a matter of fact, glenn said nothing about race.

          What do you mean by “she is entitled to Both sides”? She can be both a South Korean and a North Korean? I’m sorry, but as idealistic as that sounds, its not very realistic. She is a politician in South Korea, and because of that she should be walking on eggshells right now. No, this is not an issue of races, but politics, and it amazes me that SK politicians can sympathize with the NK regime.

          • lamster

            Who cares what he said. Directly or indirectly he and you are using the political front as schematics to divide Korea.

          • Brett Sanbon

            I am doing nothing to divide Korea… As far as I know, its already divided. Let me know if conversation with you leads anywhere besides a black hole.

          • dim mak

            Nobody in their right mind would try to unite Korea by sympathizing with the north instead of the south. This is what happens when people have an agenda but are too scared to say it.

          • Brett Sanbon

            dim mak I don’t know exactly to whom and what you are referring to. Can you elaborate? Who are the people with agendas?

    • Raphael

      To be honest – I can picture [no pun intended] the situation – many Korean friends do exactly the same thing to me – delete those photos they deem unacceptable for other people to view because the shading gives them a double chin. Out of the ten photos snapped, I might only have two remaining. And when someone of Lim’s status asks the question, I’m not sure you would/can object. I don’t think Paek actually expected the waiter to delete EVERY picture. What does everyone else think?

      • Alexei

        The photos aren’t the issue. The issue is that a lawmaker publicly insulted and cursed a man who risked his life to escape starvation and brutality. The real question is: why has her own party defended her instead of asking her to resign? And why, in discussing this controversy, did Choi Jae-sung, another DUP representative, accuse defectors of spreading “garbage-like information to make money”?

        Defectors are heroes who risk their lives for a decent life and the basic dignity most of the world takes for granted. They deserve respect, not rude insults. Lim Su-kyung’s comments reveal a total lack of empathy.

    • Noori

      It is not uncommon to ask a waiter to take pictures, especially when it comes to group photos in Korea. However, I would’ve closely monitored what photos the waiter deleted, if I were Mr Paek. Deleting more than two photos should’ve been a red flag.

    • Noori

      It is not uncommon to ask a waiter to take pictures, especially when it comes to group photos in Korea. However, I would’ve closely monitored what photos the waiter deleted, if I were Mr Paek. Deleting more than two photos should’ve been a red flag. Probably his previous admiration for Ms Lim blurred his judgment.

  • dim mak

    Leftists are a cancer in every country.

    Prove me wrong.

    • Pablo

      Correction: *extremists* –of either right or left–are cancers in every country.

    • lonetrey

      Humans are a cancer in every country.

      Prove me wrong. :( [wish you could]

    • lamster

      All parties serving corporate interests are a cancer to every country, namely, South Korean government.

      • dim mak

        Keep the liberal shit confined to western countries, thanks

  • Yohan

    The DUP is hardly pro-NK, they just don’t believe in the hard line like the SP. And let’s face it, the sunshine policy did bring alot of improvements for both Koreas and closer cooperation which is beneficial for all. That’s the way to change NK. SP on the other hand has managed to sever all achievements and their policy has resulted in the sinking of Cheonan and the attack on Yeonpyeongdo while the cooperation projects in Gaesong and Geumgangsan have been suspended and family reunions even more remote… for what? To make a point?

    • Chucky3176

      Yohan, do you speak and understand Korean? If you do, watch this show which invites a former North Korean high official in charge of North Korean government finances. He defected to South Korea, and is now part of the research team that studies North Korea. His appearance starts at around 6:00 minute mark. The show is 50 minutes long, but it will tell you how foolish your remarks are.


  • Gabrielle

    It seems to me that they were all drunk.

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