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Did Lim Ji-hyun choose to ghost her friends and family for three months? Here's everything we know about the missing defector from North Korea.

Why did North Korea defector Lim Ji-hyun disappear?

Was defector Lim Ji-hyun really missing? Looks like the Korean girl had a great social media lifestyle until she suddenly disappeared & returned as a North Korean defector. 

According to Marie Claire, North Korean soldier Lim Ji-hyun (a.k.a Jeon Hye-sung) risked her life and was part of North Korea’s army. But today her story is still a mystery to many. 

Rising star

Lim Ji-hyun’s journey began in Seoul (South Korea) when she was twenty-three-years-old and allegedly paid Chinese brokers to keep her safe & hide her across the country’s border. 

After her arrival in April 2014, Lim Ji-hyun actually became a national media sensation due to her interesting storytelling & unique sense of fashion. As Marie Claire noted, everything about the star’s life in North Korea was blasted all over social media & her infamous blog. 

BBC News also reported that she became popular across South Korean TV and even featured on reality TV & various talk shows. Unfortunately, after Lim Ji-hyun told fans about her past and her journey into the country, she immediately went missing. 

Investigation begins

When Lim Ji-hyun’s social media was a ghost town, police immediately started an investigation for the defector. Marie Claire reported that Lim Ji-hyn left behind approximately $20,000 in her bank as well as her most practical assets like one’s most important household belongings. Strange? 

Seoul defector Sun-hi explained: “She (Lim Ji-hyn) didn’t tell anyone she was leaving, not even close friends like me. . . We assumed she had gone away on a shopping trip, but we knew something was badly wrong when she didn’t return.” 


However, Lim Ji-hyun wasn’t the only female to go missing amongst her fellow North Korean defectors. In fact it’s almost become a trend or pattern for members of the South Korea’s entertainment industry, according to Marie Claire

Many women have been exposed to the cruelty of a Communist state and have spoken about their struggles with South Korean hosts like North Korea’s excessive ban on “Western evils” like Western fashion & pop culture

According to a study by the South Korean NGO Transitional Justice Working Group, the majority of the defectors in the study actually witnessed a form of public execution based on the most controversial aspects. These executions would be made if Western culture was publicized on a large scale.

North Korean defector & former professor of political science at Seoul’s Kyonggi University Kang Myung-do stated: “Most of these disappearances (like Lim Ji-hyun’s) are unexplained, but there is strong suspicion of abduction or other foul play by the “bowibu” (North Korean secret police). 

Escaping the “bowibu”

Though Lim Ji-hyun has reportedly escaped, Kang Myung-do explained that when Kim Jong-un came into power, many thought the country’s policies would be changed for the better. However, Kang stated that Kim allegedly called his “bowibu” to implement kidnappings of all defectors & move them to the North. 

Kang Myung-do explained that defectors like Lim Ji-hyun who are very famous are actually targeted as a “whistleblower” for North Korea. Kang explained that North Korea’s secret police feel that their country is at risk with defectors like Ji-hyun who continue to share their poverty struggles. 

Per Marie Claire police continued to investigate Lim-hyun’s disappearance and according to defector Sun-hi: “This was a smear campaign against Ji-hyun. . . This has happened before to defectors who become TV stars.” In reality, many of these woman are forced to sex trading & forced marriages.

Was that Lim Ji-hyun?

According to Marie Claire, Lim Ji-hyun disappeared for a full three months until she was seen on TV in North Korea in July 2017. A North Korean site called Uriminizokkiri posted a video of Lim where she explained to her fans that she decided to go back home. 

Unfortunately Lim Ji-hyun wasn’t seen in any Western attire, but was seen wearing a traditional Seoul gown (“hanbok”). Lim Ji-hyun expressed: “Everyday I spent in the South was like hell. When I was alone in a cold, dark room, I was heartbroken, and I wept every day, missing my fatherland & my parents.”

Thanks to fans, we know that she looked much more pale & puffy than usual, which allegedly could have been a way to cover up any marks or bruises on her body. BBC News also reported that her large fan club was immediately shut down. Soon everything including Lim Ji-hyun’s blog was taken down by the North Korean site.

Life in the army

Lim Ji-hyun actually joined the North Korean army when she was seventeen-years-old which was compulsory by Kim Jong-un in 2015. Sun-hi told Marie Claire: “She started to post about the terrible conditions & abuse suffered by female soldiers. . . I think her time in the army preyed on her mind, and she wanted to speak out.”

Sun-hi also explained: “Naturally, we all miss our family & friends back in North Korea. . . It’s the place where we grew up, so it’s normal to feel nostalgic. But Ji-hyun never talked about returning. Her dream was to become a serious actor, and she was full of optimism about her future here.”

Many defectors struggle to adapt. In fact, VOA News reported that Greg Scarlatoiu has claimed that many defectors have decided to leave & then return as “North Korean defectors face difficulties assimilating into the fabric of South Korean civil society”. But, Sun-hi is not giving up hope to see her friend in person again. 

Do you think defector Lim Ji-hyun chose to disappear? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  • Clearly abducted and forced into slavery. How tragic!

    February 18, 2021
  • Clearly abducted and tortured into speaking for NK. We thought Saddam was bad. So sad.

    February 20, 2021

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