Jo Jin Hye, a 24-year-old North Korean defector and rights activist, escaped torture and starvation in her homeland and made her way to the U.S., where she resettled in Virginia. At a recent rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, she urged the international community to intervene in the case of nearly 40 North Koreans facing repatriation after being arrested in China:
I am a North Korean defector. I was reborn with a blessed life from a cursed life. I was able to live a better life because many people appealed and made efforts for North Korean defectors.
I cried all night after hearing 30-40 North Koreans were arrested. I was repatriated four times and I know what is waiting for them. As soon as they are repatriated, they will be kicked and beaten for a few months in the Safety and Security Bureau. They will be beaten by thugs, scarred, scared, and they will slowly meet their deaths because of starvation.
There are tens of thousands of North Koreans in the same situation. It has been 10 years since I escaped North Korea, but I still think about those days I spent arrested and tortured in North Korea, even in my dreams. Please Koreans and members of the international community—help those who cannot enjoy freedom and fear the killing of their families, so that no one must live like that anymore.
My sister was sold to China like a dog when she was 18. My father was beaten to death in prison for bringing food from China to support his six children. My grandmother and brothers all died hoping to eat some potatoes with me. If you say one wrong word, you get killed in North Korea.
Neither Kim Jong Il nor Kim Jong Un is a qualified leader. They have turned their heads away from their own starving people. Please help us prove those people did not die for nothing and allow tens of thousands of North Koreans to survive. I desperately ask for your help.