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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Kim Seong Min

Interviewed June 23, 2024

Sadly, the main obstacle to democratizing North Korea is that North Korean defectors in South Korea are at the center of this movement; which means our numbers are small.

We try to work hard, but because we are a small population, our influence on North Korea is relatively small. This is our fundamental shortcoming. Nevertheless, my predecessors and fellow defectors are working very hard to democratize North Korea. This effort has been going on for one or two decades now. This has provided a lot of encouragement for the North Korean people.

I believe that if the [South Korean] government and the international community combined their support with the defector communities’ endeavors, our influence on North Korea could be even greater.
Democratizing North Korea doesn’t have to mean dropping a bomb on North Korea to collapse the regime. In the Tunisian Revolution, the so-called Jasmine Revolution, meaningful change started to happen with a person burning himself in protest of police [brutality].

[The Jasmine Revolution refers to the 2011 uprising in Tunisia that toppled the regime of the former dictator, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. It was inspired by Mohamed Bouazizi (1984 – 2011), a Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on fire in protest of the government’s harassment and unlawful confiscation of his products.]

The North Korean people’s mentality is beginning to change. In the past, they blindly and unconditionally gave their loyalty to the regime, but these days North Koreans now realize their lives are very important. They have become more resistant to having someone else take away their possessions.

So if we can somehow educate these people on the concepts of democracy and freedom and how inhumane their circumstances are, then I think they would be far more willing to protest against the regime.

So once again, I don’t think we have to go as far as mobilizing all 26,000 North Korean defectors in South Korea, or having the South Korean government provide some kind of major assistance.

If those people, groups, and organizations that are active could come together, I believe they could provide enough meaningful influence on North Korea.

We also have people supporting and helping us; people like Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition. This group has put together a group of sponsors for Free North Korea Radio.

Major figures like Mr. Nam Sin-u in the United States are also providing their support and encouragement.

[Suzanne Scholte (1959 – ) is an American human rights activist and the President of the Defense Forum Foundation. The North Korea Freedom Coalition is a nonpartisan coalition founded in 2003 to work for the freedom, human rights, and dignity of the North Korean people. Nam Sin-u (1940 – ) is a South Korean-born human rights activist and architect who now lives in the United States.]

Our third source of hope comes from the North Korean people. Whenever we are reminded of their desperate situation, we appreciate even more how our programs or leaflet drops into North Korea might help them.