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North Korean defector runs for election in Britain, seeks to make political historical past

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Sixteen years after she was left for lifeless outdoors a North Korean jail camp, Jihyun Park hopes to make political historical past this week when she runs for election in Britain.

“After I got here to the UK, many individuals helped: they welcomed me, they taught me English,” she informed Fox Information. “I wish to pay again this present.”

Park is standing to be a councilor in Bury, a former industrial city in northern England the place she was resettled as a refugee in 2008.

If elected, she believes she can be the primary North Korean defector to carry political workplace within the West.

Jihyun Park, who fled North Korea before settling in Britain, poses for a photograph after deciding to stand for election as a Conservative party candidate in the upcoming local elections in the Moorside Ward in Bury, Britain.

Jihyun Park, who fled North Korea earlier than settling in Britain, poses for {a photograph} after deciding to face for election as a Conservative occasion candidate within the upcoming native elections within the Moorside Ward in Bury, Britain. (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

In an interview at her house, she recounted an astonishing life story.

Having watched her uncle die of hunger through the famine that ravaged North Korea within the 1990s, her father urged her to depart the nation.

One evening in 1998, she crossed into China beneath the duvet of darkness.

“Troopers shouted at us and [we heard] gunfire, however we continued throughout the border as a result of we needed to outlive,” she stated.


She fell into the fingers of human traffickers, and was bought to a Chinese language man who used her for labor and intercourse.

“I needed to surrender my life,” she stated. “My life was actually slavery.

“However in the future I came upon that I used to be pregnant, so I modified my thoughts, as a result of the kid is my final household and he possibly gave me one other probability.”

She hid her being pregnant and gave beginning alone.

5 years later, Park was arrested as an unlawful immigrant and deported to North Korea, with out her son.

“My nightmares got here true,” she stated. “They arrested me in entrance of my baby. I begged, ‘Please, I wish to say some phrases to my son.’ However they by no means allowed me.”

Again in North Korea, she was imprisoned at a labor camp, however grew to become significantly sick with a leg damage and was freed.


“The police stated, ‘You can’t die contained in the camp. You die outdoors anyway.’ In order that they launched me.”

After a pair months recuperating, she made the damaging crossing into China for a second time.

She was reunited along with her baby, and joined a bunch of North Koreans trying to succeed in neighboring Mongolia.

That effort failed, however Park was helped alongside the way in which by a person within the group. The pair grew to become an merchandise at the moment are married.

If elected, Jihyun Park believes she would be the first North Korean defector to hold political office in the West.

If elected, Jihyun Park believes she can be the primary North Korean defector to carry political workplace within the West. (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

The couple moved to Beijing, the place a Korean-American pastor put them in contact with the United Nations. They had been granted asylum in England.

“Within the UK, we had been a very completely different nationality, completely different cultures, completely different languages, however they accepted us,” she stated.

“I wish to pay again this present within the UK,” she added. “In order that’s why I stand on this election.”

On the marketing campaign path in Bury, the place she is a candidate for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative occasion, Park stated voters not often search to speak concerning the nation of her beginning, and present little curiosity in world diplomatic tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons.


As an alternative, they wish to know what she plans to do about bettering rubbish disposal providers.

“Individuals chat to us concerning the bin assortment issues, and the soiled streets, and likewise street security. Every little thing,” she stated. “And I write it down, in my notes.”

She added, “I already made my desires right here: a contented household, a contented life. And I lastly discovered my freedoms right here.

“Now I wish to deliver one other particular person’s desires.”

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