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North Korea's heavily fortified borders offer few glimpses of life inside the secretive communist state, but hundreds of people risk their lives and defect to neighbouring countries every year.
What they bring with them are the few reliable accounts of the hardship of daily life and brutality under Kim Jong-il's totalitarian rule.
Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley met some of them in their new home in South Korea, where they feel increasingly like outcasts. (Oct 02, 2010)