BEIJING — A woman who fled North Korea after living there for 43 years returned to the communist country Tuesday after nearly four years in Japan, saying she missed her children and found Japanese society unwelcoming.
To Chu Ji's family gave her a bouquet, embraced her and wept when she arrived in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
Before leaving, To spoke at a rare news conference at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, saying she had been cheated by "bad people" into leaving North Korea in 2003.
She gave few details, and reporters were not allowed to ask questions.
The motives behind the news conference were unclear, although it comes amid a dispute over North Korea's alleged abduction of 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and '80s.
To said she was born in Japan in 1949 and given a Korean name for her father and a Japanese name for her mother. The family moved to North Korea in 1960, she said.
To said she had five children in North Korea but left them to cross into China, where a Jeep waited to take her to the Japanese Consulate in Shenyang.
Two weeks later, she was living in the Japanese town of Matsudo, where she said she led an isolated life.
"I became almost crazy with longing for my children," To said. She said at the Beijing news conference that today's Japan was different from the country of her childhood.
"The Japanese, even if they live on the same floor of the same apartment, they don't care about each other and don't communicate with each other.... It's like they live alone," she said.