NKFW Chaired by Suzanne Scholte, North Korea Freedom Coalition, and Choi Jeong-hun, Free North Korea Radio
Delegation of North Korean Defectors Attending from Seoul
Choi Jeong-hun (Delegation Chair) was born in 1971 and raised in Hyesan, Yangang Province. He served as the Platoon Sergeant at the Mirim University Security Platoon. Kim graduated from Kim Il-sung Politics College and was assigned as a Political Officer at the 144th Battalion. After military discharge, Choi was educated at Province Party Training Center to become a member of the Workers’ Party and served as a Junior Party Secretary at the construction company in Hyesan. He arrived in South Korea in December 2006. Since 2012, he has worked for Free North Korea Radio as the Broadcasting Director and was elected as the Commander in Chief of North Korea People’s Liberation Front in 2013.
Han Jin-myung studied French at Pyongyang Institute of Foreign Languages and Kim Il-sung University. He enlisted in DPRK Air Force in 1992 and served at Unmanned Aerial Vehicle branch for 10 years. After graduation, he started his career as a diplomat to work for Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2008. From 2013 to 2015, he was based in Vietnam as a third secretary, engaged with trade and business. He is currently the representative of NK Intellectuals’ Solidarity. (Special witness on overseas labor)
Cha Ri-hyuk studied communication reconnaissance in Kim Cheol-ju Artillery School and served in the 2nd artillery corps. He was a promising officer, but dishonorably dismissed because his parents were missing. His defection story clearly shows how the state authority represses the lives of North Korean people. Cha was arrested for the obstruction of justice when he resisted against the police officers who tried to extort the grains from people. The prosecutors accused him of conspiring an uprising, which made him decide to escape in 2013. As a member of North Korean People’s Liberation Front (NKPLF), Cha is taking charge of the production of the educational content for North Korean military, which has been delivered via USBs. NKPLF recently sent 90,000 USBs with South Korean movies, dramas and information about North Korean human rights. (Special witness on military)
Lim Hye-jin was born in North Hamkyung province. She enlisted in military and served 7 years as a communication operator. Her first defection was during the height of ‘Arduous March’ in 1998. She paid brokers to get to China but in the end sold two times to Chinese men. Lim was arrested by Chinese Security and repatriated two times until she finally made to South Korea in 2001. Currently she is working with New Korea Women’s Alliance to help North Korean defector women and mothers to reunite with their children left in NK. (Special witness on women and children’s human rights)
Kim Ji-young was born in Hyesan, Yanggang Province. She studied at Kim Il-sung University, and ran a restaurant in Pyongyang until she and her family defected in 2012. Kim has been working at Free North Korea Radio as a reporter. Her expertise is on North Korean children issue. She covered the situation in orphanage several times to expose the horrible treatment of orphans. Often times they are abused and exploited in slave labor, when the international food aid was appropriated. (Special witness on children’s human rights)
Choi Jeong-ho was born in 1973 in Hyesan, Yanggang Province. He majored in Russian at Hyesan Foreign Language School, and until October 1998 served as the Platoon Sergeant at Kim Il-sung Military University Security Company. Choi graduated from Hyesan College of Agriculture in 2003 and worked as the Assistant Director at the Chosun Translated Film Production Rear Resources Base until he defected in 2011. Now he is working at Keun Saem, an after school program for North Korean defector children. (Special witness for drug production and trafficking)
Hu Kang-il (Committee for the Democratization of North Korea) was born in Kimchaek. Studied at Cheongjin College of Shipbuilding Industry, Hu worked at Cheongjin Dockyard as a Party Cell Secretary. He was dispatched to Russia in 1986 and worked at DPRK Forestry Representative to Russia. He escaped in 1993 which took him two years to get to Seoul. Hu’s career in technology management continued as working for Korea Electric Power Corporation based in Seoul. Hu has been leading Committee for the Democratization of North Korea (CDNK), one of the first organization founded by North Korean defectors, since 2014.
Park Sang-hak (Fighters for Free North Korea) was born in 1968 at Hyesan, Yanggangdo. A member of the elites from Pyongyang, Park is a graduate of Kim Cheak Industrial University and worked at a Propaganda Unit in Pyongyang until 1999. His father was a North Korean spy in charge of collecting information about South Korea. While on a spy mission in Japan, Park’s father sent a message to his family to defect when he realized that South Korea was much better off than North Korea. The family decided to escape, not because they believed the report, but because they knew they would be sent to a political prison camps if the did not flee. The family escaped to South Korea in March 2000 and realizing the truth about North and South Korea, Park became one of the most outspoken defector activists. Park is now leading Fighters for Free North Korea which focuses on sending information through balloon launches. He has previously served as the Representative of the Democracy Network Against the North Korean Gulag and a Vice Chairman of the Exile Committee for North Korean Democracy.
Park Jung-oh (Keun Saem Education Center) was born in 1968 at Hyesan, Yanggang Province. After graduating from Communication College, Park worked at Radio Wave Surveillance Station from 1993 to 1998 as a supervisor. He continued his education at Yangang University majoring in Agriculture from 1994 and graduated in 1998, but decided to defect with his five other family members in 1998. Park had to hide for two and half years in China until he made his way to South Korea in 2001. Since then he has helped his brother with the balloon launches and has also established an after school education center for North Korean defector children.
Han Gee Hee (Sound Engineer) Born in 1980 at Hoeryong, North Hamkyung Province. She studied at an Agriculture College and worked as a laborer at a collective farm. Just like any other North Koreans who were trying to survive, she started her own business to sell things in the market, which led her to defect to China in 2002. After six years of wandering around China as a refugee, she decided to go to South Korea. She worked to save money to hire a broker to get her to South Korea. After she paid him, he dropped her off at the border of Mongolia and handed her a compass and told her to head North across the grassland and the Gobi desert. Alone, she walked for several days without knowing where to go, and finally was found by Mongolian Police. Once she reached South Korea, she taught herself sound engineering and is now the sound engineer for Free North Korea Radio.
Ji Seong-ho: was born in Hoeryong, North Hamkyung province. During the famine, he often climbed up to the coal car in order to gather the scrap of coal, which later he sold in the private market. One day he fell out from the train, and lost a arm and a leg. However, not only he could not get the proper medical treatment, but later was discriminated for being disabled. He defected in 2006 and now actively works for the North Korean human rights issue.
Kim Keun-woo : was born in 1988 and defected in 1998. His whole family attempted the escape together, but later his parents were arrested by Chinese Security and repatriated. His mother made her way to come back to China and reunited with him, but still he has not heard about his father. Kim and his mother lived 7 years in China and finally arrived in South Korea in 2005. These days he is working at the organization called NAUH for the human rights of North Koreans and education for the young generation of South Koreans to prepare the unification.
NOTE: this is a partial list as additional members of the NKFW delegation requested not to be publicly identified as they have family members still in North Korea.
Kim Hyo-ju, Seo Kang
(for further information contact Suzanne Scholte, email Suzanne@defenseforumfoundation.org)