North Korea's Permanent Under-class

My name is Daniel. I was an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea, and am now a writer who has
published three books including South Korea: Our Story by Daniel Nardini.
                     One of the demands by the North Korean government to again allow private South
Korean organizations to return to North Korea for exchange relations is the “return” of 13 former employees
at a North Korean restaurant in China because the North Korean government claims they were “kidnapped.”
These employees (12 women and one man) had voluntarily escaped from China and from North Korea, and
they have no desire to go to North Korea. Why is North Korea so insistent on them being forcibly returned?
Because these people came from the privileged class in North Korea, and so many of them escaping was a
major embarrassment to the North Korean government. These people chose freedom over privilege and even
their families who will now suffer from their actions. But these 13 individuals were from the privileged class;
most North Koreans belong to the under-class. These are the millions of North Korean families who have
been condemned to being permanently declared “disloyal” or “not loyal” by the North Korean government’s
strict class system because they may have had a grandparent or grandparents who either cooperated with
the Japanese or have relatives in South Korea. Because of this, these people are forever condemned to
remain in the under-class, and their men condemned to work at poorer paying jobs and barely able to feed
their families. Hence, the women must try and provide for their families when their men cannot. This can
range from operating in the black market for scarce goods to going into China illegally to do business to
even being prostitutes. This is a sad reality North Korea’s under-class has to live with. In comparison, 
South Koreans can over-come poverty, can go to university if they do well on the national exams, can
go to other countries to start life again, and can build successful businesses that can change one’s class
background. This is the true meaning of what freedom and democracy has brought the average South
Korean that quite simply does not exist in North Korea.