I recommend reading this article – North Korean Defectors: Escaping the reign of Kim Jong-Il – since the world is paying more attention to North Korea right now…. Some key points:
*Listening to South Korean radio is considered a grave offense in North Korea – a crime worse than murder. Getting caught means facing punishment for three generations: not only endangering yourself, but also your parents and your children.
*North Korean border guards are instructed to shoot anyone trying to pass, but many accept bribes and allow people to wade through or walk across frozen waters.
*Defectors suffer severe consequences upon their return, from sentencing at prison camps to death by firing squad. North Korean authorities interrogate defectors for their crimes and motives for defecting, and are particularly brutal toward those suspected of coming into contact with South Koreans, religious groups, or other foreigners.
*Nearly 80% of North Koreans who flee are women. Eight or nine of every ten of these women are then sold by trafficking gangs who approach women along the border areas to lure them with promises of finding food, shelter, and jobs in China. North Korean women are not technically considered victims of trafficking, however, because they cross the border voluntarily.