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N. Korean defectors eye politics as weapon to make voice heard

SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) — Back in North Korea, Ji Seong-ho saw elections as nothing more than a formality, because even a vote against the ruling Workers’ Party-picked candidates, let alone criticism of the government, could land voters in prison.

Running for office was an unthinkable privilege reserved for elites and well-connected people.

That’s why, after coming to South Korea, Ji, known for his surprise appearance at U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018, was stunned to see candidates feverishly campaigning and people passionately debating policy and freely criticizing their president.

After more than 10 years of living in South Korea, Ji is now planning to run in the April 15 general elections for a National Assembly seat, with the goal of helping North Korean defectors and people still suffering in the country he escaped from.

“If elected, I hope to contribute to enacting laws that help improve human rights situations in North Korea and to draw up policies to support North Korean defectors, like me,” he said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency.

Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector-turned-human rights activist, in his office in southwest Seoul (Yonhap)

Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector-turned-human rights activist, in his office in southwest Seoul (Yonhap)

Yonhap News

By: Koh Byung-joon

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200318007600325

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