North Korean defector Ji Seong Ho, who came to South Korea in 2006, hopes that human rights issues in the North will be discussed during the inter-Korea summit later this week.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will sit down at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday, April 27, to discuss a range of issues, including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Ji said he hopes that human rights issues will be one of the discussion points.
“People [in North Korea] cannot speak out [on human rights issues], they will probably face death if they state their views. People outside of North Korea should tell the world about their human rights and hopefully lead to changes,” he said.
Ji who heads Now, Action and Unity for Human Rights (NAUH), a group that rescues and resettles North Korean refugees, also said defectors have expectations that the summit can lead to the unification of the Korean peninsula so that they can revisit their homes and families in the North.
“North Korean defectors have expectations that the day of unification will come sooner (through this summit) so that they can go to the homeland [North Korea] and meet their loved ones,” Ji said.
Ji Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom. pic.twitter.com/ptighgJaGR
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 1, 2018
Ji was a child beggar tortured and starved in North Korea who managed to escape the country after he was run over by a train while trying to steal coal.
Ji, who lost his left hand and leg after he fell from the moving freight train, appeared at U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in February. In one emotional moment, he held up his crutches after Trump mentioned him during his speech.
Ji also had a one-on-one meeting with Trump.
The total number of North Korean defectors in South Korea stood at 31,339 as of the end of December 2017, according to government data.