North Korean Defector Describes the Shock of Adjusting to a Society With Advanced Technology

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating new video about the struggles that many North Koreans go through when they defect to the South. Many of the hurdles are technological. As just one example, when North Koreans first encounter ATMs they sometimes believe that there’s a person inside the machine because the ATM “talks.”

The video from the Wall Street Journal:


The video really demonstrates how shocking it can be to go from a country where so much money is currently being poured into the machines of war to a country like South Korea where technologies like talking ATMs and tablet computers are abundant.

Some of the video speaks to just how harsh the realities of living in a capitalist society can be. Despite the corruption of the North Korean central bank, North Koreans expect government to provide restitution when scams occur.


Recently about 200 North Korean defectors were taken in by a scam that targeted them because of their naivety about financial norms in South Korea. All together, the defectors were part of a group that lost about $14 million. One of the defectors returned to North Korea and went on state TV to declare that “there are as many scams in South Korea as there is water in the river.”

Looking to the future, experts on the region are focusing on what happens under Korean unification, when North Korea inevitably collapses either through military intervention from the United States or under the weight of crushing poverty currently endured by its people.


Teaching North Koreans about not only the strange aspects of modern technology (like talking ATMs) could be the least of their worries when you’ve got a world of scammers looking to make a buck off North Korean ignorance of just how corrupt modern capitalist financial systems can be.

[Wall Street Journal]