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North Korean Defector Vows to 'Pull Down' Corrupt Regime, End Slavery in Country

( [email protected] ) Jan 25, 2017 01:34 PM EST
A North Korea defector has vowed to do all he can to "pull down" the corrupt regime and end slavery in the isolated country.
Two South Korean Christian pastors have been arrested in China for allegedly helping to smuggle North Korean defectors out of the country. Service personnel and civilians lay floral baskets, bouquets and flowers before the statues of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il on the 68th founding anniversary of the DPRK in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Reuters

A North Korea defector has vowed to do all he can to "pull down" the corrupt regime and end slavery in the isolated country.

Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean Deputy Ambassador to the UK, recently told BBC's Seoul Correspondent Stephen Evans that he is "very determined to do everything possible to pull down the regime, to save not only my family members, but also the whole North Korean people from slavery".

Thae, who defected to South Korea along with his wife and two sons in August of last year, said he's afraid his family remaining in the country have been punished for his defection:  "I'm sure that my relatives and my brothers and sisters are either sent to remote, closed areas or to prison camps, and that really breaks my heart," he said.

Asked by Evans if he could imagine his brother shouting to him in anguish from prison in North Korea, and what would he reply, Thae said: "That is really a question I don't like to even think about."

The country's brutal leader, Kim Jong-un, lives a "secretive life", according to Thae. However, he emphasized that his "ability to wreak harm should not be underestimated." He added that while Kim doesn't have the means to attack the United States at the moment, he is developing the ability and would be prepared to use a nuclear arsenal.

"Kim Jong-un knows that nuclear weapons are the only guarantee for his rule. And Kim Jong-un, I think, will press the button on these dangerous weapons when he thinks that his rule and his dynasty is threatened," he said.

The BBC says it is planning to start broadcasting in Korean across the whole Korean peninsula - a move wich Thae believes may begin a "people's uprising" in the North.

In a seperate interview, Thae said North Korea's elite are experiencing increasing dissatisfaction with Kim as more outside information trickles into the isolated nation,  

"When Kim Jong-un first came to power, I was hopeful that he would make reasonable and rational decisions to save North Korea from poverty, but I soon fell into despair watching him purging officials for no proper reasons," Thae said during his first news conference with foreign media on Wednesday.

"Low-level dissent or criticism of the regime, until recently unthinkable, is becoming more frequent," said Thae. "We have to spray gasoline on North Korea, and let the North Korean people set fire to it."

North Korea heads Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution for the 15th consecutive year now. A 2014 UN report estimated that "hundreds of thousands of political prisoners" have died in the North Korean gulags over the past 50 years amid "unspeakable atrocities." A separate report released last year by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide said that thousands of those suffering in the country's labor camps are Christians who, in some cases, are hung on a cross over a fire, and at times crushed under a steamroller.

Canadian pastor Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, leader of Light Presbyterian Church in Toronto, is among those suffering in the country's prison camp system. During a 2016 interview with CNN, the pastor, who struggles with a number of health issues, revealed that he works eight hours a day, six days a week, with rest breaks, digging holes for the planting of apple trees in the prison orchard. He said he has not seen any other prisoners, and is not allowed contact with the outside world.

Tags : North Korea, Christianity, North Korean prison camps, labor camps, Kim Jong Un