A woman and her six-year-old son have been found starved to death in their flat after the mum defected from North Korea and made it to South Korea.
Police believe Kim and his 42-year-old mother, Mrs Han, were living in extreme poverty having fled the brutal regime.
Their bodies were found by the caretaker of their block of flats in the Bongcheon-dong area of Seoul, on Wednesday, July 31, but they are believed to have died two months earlier.
The caretaker had gone into the flat after a plumber reported that there was a foul smell coming from inside.
The family’s water supply had been cut off due to unpaid bills.
A police official from the Gwanak Police Station in Seoul said: “We did not see any signs of murder or suicide.
“We are waiting to get the autopsy results from the National Forensic Service.”
The news has raised questions about the level of state support offered to defectors, according to local media.
Although the police are still investigating the case to find out what led to the death of two North Koreans, they have reason to suspect that the family starved to death because there was no food supply in the house.
In addition, Mrs Han’s monthly rent and gas bills were reportedly more than a year overdue.
Mrs Han reportedly reached South Korea with her Korean-Chinese husband in 2009.
After their son was born, they moved to China.
However, her marriage did not work out and after divorcing her husband, she and her son moved to seek solace in South Korea last year.
She reportedly could not find work to support herself and her little boy.
Due to the difficulties they face, defectors in South Korea are entitled to subsidies from the government, but it is said to be extremely hard for them to assimilate into the South’s very contrasting society.
A government official stated that an attempt had been made to reach the mother by phone to provide assistance when they first moved to their current flat, but nobody answered.
No subsequent calls or attempts to contact them were made, according to local media.
A unification ministry official stated that the government plans to take adequate measures to help North Korean defectors by properly dealing with such “blind spots” where they do not receive much-needed support.