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Watch the Freedom Collection’s new interview with Kim Seong Min, a North Korean defector and freedom advocate. He escaped from North Korea in 1999 and endeavors to help those still inside the country. Moreover, Kim tries to educate international audiences on the atrocities being committed by Pyongyang. As part of these efforts, Kim established Free North Korea Radio that broadcasts directly into North Korea. As a former military officer and official in the propaganda office, Kim Seong Min offers a unique perspective on North Korea’s inner workings. “The North Korean regime uses every possible method to protect its own little regime. For example, the idolization of the family and propaganda of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are used to brainwash the people from an early age; they don’t realize that they are being turned into mental slaves.” Moreover, Kim describes the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by the elite while the general population lives in squalor and battles widespread starvation. During his time in the military, Kim discovered that leaflets and radio broadcasts from South Korea were penetrating North Korean borders. It was then he realized that family members living in South Korea could be contacted; something he had thought impossible. He attempted to write letters to his family living there, but North Korean authorities uncovered his plans and ordered his arrest. Kim chose to flee his homeland and reunite with his family in South Korea. The journey to freedom was perilous. Kim fled through China only to be captured by Chinese police. After enduring more than a month of vicious interrogations, the Chinese shipped Kim back to North Korea where defectors face torture, imprisonment, and possible execution. Fortunately, Kim escaped off a moving train that was transporting him to Pyongyang and he again crossed the border into China. On his second attempt, Kim found salvation in South Korea where he established North Korea Free Radio, a broadcast that targets people still trapped under Pyongyang’s fist, delivering information about the outside world and exposing the regime’s lies. In April 2006, Kim met with President George W. Bush. Reflecting on the visit, Kim said, “When President Bush took the time to meet us, he said that the Kim Jong Il regime is evil. He encouraged all of the North Korean defectors who attended that event and he patted us on our shoulders to give us words and thoughts of encouragement. It gave us a lot of pride and encouraged us with those gestures.” Watch the interview with Kim Seong Min here. This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as Senior Program Manager for the Human Freedom and Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
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