One stormy night in May, Kim loaded his family into his home-made wooden boat and sailed away from North Korea, hoping to give his children a life of freedom.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled to South Korea since the peninsula was divided by war in the 1950s, but most go overland to neighbouring China first.

Defecting by sea is extremely rare and seen as far more dangerous than land routes, with only a handful of people making it across the de facto maritime border, the Northern Limit line.