pyongyang - The missile tests of North Korea not only cause international tensions, but may also cause calamity in the country itself. Defectors (who have fled the country) claim that the high radiation to which the population is exposed has led to a deadly ghost disease.
Thousands of people would have died as a result of the mysterious illness, but there are no figures. North Korea is so isolated that it is not communicated about. People who can flee the country suffer from all kinds of symptoms that they think are the result of exposure to radioactivity. They also fear the fate of family members who still live near those nuclear test sites.
'In the meantime so many people have died that we start to call it ghost disease', says Lee Jeong Hwa, who fled North Korea after several attempts in 2010 and tells her story to the American NBC News. Lee lived near a nuclear test area in the Kilju region, where several bombs were tested. The woman is in constant pain. 'We thought that everyone died because we were poor and ate too little. But now we think it's because of the radioactivity. '
Rhee Yeong Sil, who also escaped, also thinks that nuclear testing is the cause of many diseases in people around her. A neighbor of Rhee gave birth to a mutilated child. 'The gender of the child could not be determined because it had no gender. Usually deformed babies are killed in North Korea. So the parents killed the baby. '
Although Lee and Rhee tested negative for radioactivity, researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) can not verify whether nuclear exposure is the culprit of the health problems of refugee North Koreans. According to the WHO, radioactivity can affect organs and tissue and can therefore significantly increase the risk of cancer. Scientists tell North Korean women to believe their word because 'there is not much reliable information to fall back on. '
After North Korea recently tested a ballistic missile again after two months, the United Nations and the United States have once again warned North Korea against nuclear testing. Jeffrey Feltman of the UN (political affairs department) recently said in a conversation with the North Korean ambassador Ja Song-nam that Pyongyang 'should not take any more destabilizing steps. '