N. Korean Defectors Shocked by Claims of Human Rights

WASHINGTON – Four North Korean defectors testified in the nation’s capitol on Thursday about the horrid conditions in the communist country that forced them to flee their homeland.

Stories of deaths and imprisonment of family members, personal accounts of torture, and intolerable starvation were detailed by four middle-aged North Koreans during a press conference ahead of Saturday’s international protest against China’s violent action toward North Korean refugees.

“I testify against Kim Jung-Il!” cried “Kim Ock Soon,” whose real name was withheld for the protection of her remaining family in North Korea. “There are no human rights in North Korea … I will testify forever.”

Kim held up an article clipping from a South Korean newspaper as she decried claims that there is no torture or political prison camps in North Korea. She questioned how anyone can claim there are human rights in North Korea when a Chinese post office told her she can send mail anywhere in the world except North Korea because its government prevents mail from entering the country.

Suzanne Scholte, president of Defense Forum Foundation and the conference’s organizer, explained that she understands and respects China’s need to protect its border. However, she said there are many countries including the United States that are willing to shelter North Korean refugees. She called China’s treatment of North Korean refugees the “most avoidable humanitarian crisis.”

Another witness, “Myung Soo Kang,” said he left North Korea after his parents and his parent-in-law died of starvation. He fled to China but was captured and repatriated to North Korea and sent to Chong Jin Prison where he was tortured with burning wood on his knees, forced to drink dirty mop water, and received a knife cut on his chest. He lifted his pants and showed those present the scars on his knees and legs from the torture.

“I get really upset when I listen to their testimonies,” said Pastor Phillip Buck, who rescued the four witnesses. “The country they use to live in is not a country for a normal human being.”

Buck has helped North Korean refugees for over 10 years and has fed over 1,000 refugees. Buck also taught the refugees Bible studies as he fed and sheltered them in China. In May 2005, he was caught by the Chinese police and held until August 2006 for the “crime” of rescuing North Korea refugees.

The four witnesses on Thursday, who began the press conference by singing the hymn “Amazing Grace,” were among the many that Buck has led to Christ. One of the witnesses, “Kim Young Chul,” even brought a Bible with him to the press conference.

“Now what do we have to do? Just by listening to this are you just going to stop here? I really want to ask you,” said Buck. “It is very important for me and you to spread the real truth who Kim Jung-Il is and how the North Korean government is and let everybody know.”

The four North Korean witnesses will participate in the rally against China’s violent action towards North Korean refugees on Saturday at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. They will also testify at the U.N. DPI/NGO briefing in New York next week as well as at Korean churches in Los Angeles and in Oklahoma state.

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