Since the border between North Korea and South Korea was established 60 years ago, more than 25,000 people have fled from the North.
The CBC’s Catherine Mercier in Seoul speaks to a man who escaped North Korea with his wife and daughter, but left a son behind in the oppressive state.
The former North Korean resident, who asked that his identity be concealed, follows the news closely from the North. He believes the recent barrage of threats from leader Kim Jong-un are a way of diverting attention from the country's dismal living conditions and failed economy.
After fleeing 2½ years ago from decades of hunger and hardship, he was unprepared for the affluence in the South. "I was shocked to see 50 million South Koreans eating rice every day, three times a day. In North Korea the living conditions are worse than those of animals."
He says there is little respect in the North for its inexperienced leader, who is the grandson of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the country. But there are harsh consequences for any opposition to the totalitarian regime.
Some day, the man hopes, the border will no longer keep his family separated.