Traditionally North Koreans who want to escape the tyranny of Kim family would take the China route given its vicinity. China however is not very receptive of the North Korean defectors and would often send them home. As a result, more and more defectors are willing to journey to Thailand in the hope that Bangkok will ship them to South Korea to start their new life.
08/05/2017 North Korea (USA Today)- At a glance, Thailand seems an unlikely destination for North Koreans seeking to defect from their abusive state.
For starters, the two nations are separated by about 3,000 miles. Most of that distance is consumed by China, which tends to scoop up intruding North Korean refugees and ship them back home, where they face grim retaliation in gulags.
Yet each year, hundreds and sometimes thousands of North Koreans make this grueling overland journey from their frigid homeland to the tropics of Southeast Asia.
Despite its distance, Thailand is actually one of the closest reachable nations where North Koreans can reasonably expect that the government will deliver them to South Korean officials. That is the goal: defecting to South Korea, their estranged and far more prosperous sibling nation.