|Testimony: The Truth about North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il
By Ma Young-Ae
On the death of North Korea’s brutal dictator, UN Watch publishes for the first time the following testimony by North Korean defector Ma Young-Ae. The article is based on her speech delivered on Sept. 21, 2011 (see photo above), before the “We Have A Dream” Global Summit against Discrimination and Persecution, organized by UN Watch and 20 other human rights groups. To watch the video, click here.
The human rights situation in North Korea is unspeakable. The United States and the Republic of Korea cannot even imagine what is going on there: unthinkable things. There is no hope for improvement unless Kim Jong-il’s government is destroyed.
We thought human rights might be restored following the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994. But many have died since his son, Kim Jong-il, took power. I have lost my husband, who stayed behind. After I escaped in 2000, the North Korean government learned I was working for the cause of human rights in North Korea. Pak Kil-yon, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN at the time, informed the North Korean government about me in June 2003. By Kim Jong-il’s order, my husband was publicly executed the following October.
I think about my loving husband every day. So I brought my loving son to New York and demonstrated outside North Korea’s UN mission. I shouted, “Bring my loving husband back!”
My son shouted, “Bring my loving father back, whom you publicly executed!”
I went there many times with my son and demonstrated peacefully, but the North Korean government did not respond. Then, in March 2010, in front of the North Korean mission to the UN, a person accompanying Sin Son Ho, the current North Korean ambassador, threatened my life, saying that he was going to kill me.
Many people are suffering in North Korea’s gulags. Hunger is the “political” reason they are there. They want freedom. All they’re asking is, “Give us some food.” Many millions of hungry people are sent to prison camps, where they live worse than animals. This is Kim Jong-il’s regime.
More than 3.5 million souls have perished from hunger, and I yearn for them. While they could not escape, more than 300,000 refugees are spread across Southeast Asia. But now the Chinese government is arresting North Korean refugees who escape because of hunger. These refugees are suffering in Chinese prisons.
I am a human rights activist and I believe in God. I am a missionary who wants to spread the gospel in North Korea. I would like to re-send a message to the Chinese government. During the Beijing Olympics in 2008, I was on a hunger strike for eight days in front of the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles. I shouted, “Please do not send back these hungry refugees, who risked their lives to escape.”
I shouted out a message for Chinese President Hu Jintao: “If you were North Korean and you were hungry, you would have escaped to another country.”
You cannot overcome hunger. A beating, maybe. But hunger produces tears. It’s pitiful to be hungry all the time.
As a human rights activist, my hope is that refugees, including the 300,000 North Koreans across Southeast Asia, will soon be able to live in a free country. Kim Jong-un, who will succeed Kim Jong-il, is just as ruthless as his father. He is publicly executing people who just want food.
I also want to repeat that the North Korean mission threatened me with death. Even in America, they send messages threatening my life. I am telling only the truth about the situation in North Korea. I am reporting this to the international community here today.
I have spoken many times about the North Korean human rights situation in testimony before the U.S. Congress. When I met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York, I told her, “Let’s say you become president. Please take more interest in North Korean human rights.”
My dream is for the refugees granted asylum in the United States to become firm believers in Christ. When North Korea becomes free, I would like my partners and co-workers to return there to share the message of the gospel. As for North Korea, my hope is for the destruction of the statues of the grandfather, the father, and the son – Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un. I am willing to sacrifice my own life for these dreams.
I would like to thank the U.S. government. I hope that the United Nations will work to arrest Kim Jong-il, just as it sought to arrest the Libyan ex-president, the dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Kim Jong-il’s regime has to be swept away before human rights in North Korea can even begin to be discussed.