A top North Korean diplomat who defected earlier this year to South Korea has said that he will expose the "tyrannical reign of terror" that people are suffering under Kim Jong Un, including torture and slavery.
Thae Yong Ho, who was a diplomat in the North Korean embassy to the U.K. in London, told South Korean officials that he escaped with his family because of the human rights abuses under Kim's regime, Sky News reported.
"I will engage in public activities even if it threatens my own safety," Thae said, vowing to work for the unification of Korea.
The former official said that North Koreans are subjected to "slavery" under Kim's dictatorship.
"There are many ranking North Korean officials suffering from depression over concerns they will have to live like slaves for a long time if the North's young leader rules the country for decades," he was quoted as saying.
Lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo of South Korea's National Intelligence Service added: "Thae said that he had come to grasp South Korea's democracy and (economic) development by watching South Korean dramas and movies during his long stay in foreign countries."
Although more than 30,000 North Koreans are believed to have defected to South Korea since the 1950s, Thae is the highest ranking official to make such a decision.
North Korea has called Thae "human scum" and a "criminal," as the Guardian reported, and has claimed that he escaped charges of embezzlement and child rape, which Thae strongly denies.
UPI reported on Monday that another defector also testified recently on the torture North Koreans are made to suffer through, with people arrested and having their fingers broken and nails pulled for offenses such as watching foreign films.
The punishment is apparently part of the North Korean regime's strategy to "prevent North Koreans from having contact with the outside world."
The testimony also revealed that North Korea has been sending women as workers to the Czech Republic to earn foreign currency for the regime. The defector claimed that the women are under "double, triple surveillance" and are "treated like animals."
The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea meanwhile shared new satellite photos late in November of North Korea's secret prisons, where countless of thousands are believed to be tortured, raped and murdered.
"These camps constitute the cornerstone of the country's large infrastructure dedicated to political repression and social control that enables widespread and systematic human rights abuses," Amnesty International has said of the secret prisons.
Christians and other religious minorities are also heavily targeted under Kim's regime, and arrested for things such as reading the Bible.
Watchdog groups such as Open Doors USA have listed North Korea as the country where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith.