North Korean defector lifts the lid on escaping from Kim Jong-un’s regime

Kim Jong-un ‘strengthening defence’ says expert

Ryu Hyeon-woo was the dictator’s former ambassador to Kuwait but defected to South Korea after claiming his former boss was developing a nuclear arsenal which would be the key to his survival. Mr Ryu fled to South Korea a year ago but still fears for the safety of his family.

Mr Ryu said he and his wife did not tell their daughter about the plan and pretended they were taking her to school.

Recalling the moment, the former North Korean ambassador said they told her: “Come with mum and dad to find freedom.”

Mr Ryu said his daughter is now happy with her new life and was enjoying using the internet as much as she wants.

But the former ambassador said his three siblings and his 83-year-old mother could face cruel repercussions from the Kim regime.

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Speaking to CNN, he said: “Any thought of them being punished for what I’ve done just hurts my heart.”

Mr Ryu said as an ambassador he was given targets for the amount of money he was expected to earn for the Communist leader.

He claimed thousands of North Korean labourers were sent to work in Kuwait, with their earnings being sent directly to Pyongyang to support the despot.

Mr Ryu then urged all sanctions against North Korea “should continue” and said human rights were a “sensitive and serious” issue.

He went on to say how Kim would never fully abandon his nuclear weapons programme and claimed it was “directly linked to the stability of the regime”.

The former ambassador also expressed hope US President Joe Biden would be able to handle North Korea’s nuclear issue wisely.

He continued: “Based on his experience resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, I have no doubt he’ll be able to handle North Korea’s nuclear issue wisely.”

North Korea’s leader and his government have vowed to increase their nuclear military capabilities in the coming months and claimed no matter who is in power in the US will always be their “biggest enemy”.

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Last month, Kim assumed the title of general secretary of the Korean Worker’s Party and during his speech, he said his country should be “redirected on subduing” the US.

North Korean state media quoted Kim as saying: “Our foreign political activities should be focused and redirected on subduing the US, our biggest enemy and main obstacle to our innovated development.

“No matter who is in power in the US, the true nature of the US and its fundamental policies towards North Korea never change.”

Mr Biden has criticised Kim in public and referred to him as a “thug” while he also attacked Mr Trump’s “bromance” diplomacy with the North Korean leader.

Dennis Halpin, former principal advisor to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Asia-Pacific issues, warned Mr Biden “will demand concrete steps from Pyongyang before going forward in diplomatic negotiations”.

Robert Winstanley-Chesters, of the University of Leeds, said North Korea “wants to be taken seriously”.

He said: “What North Korea ultimately wants is to be taken seriously as a legitimate, viable state with a place at the world table, and to have its security and continued existence and sovereignty guaranteed.

“Pyongyang ultimately sees the United States as the guarantor of that security and so would like to achieve that on equal terms, and not to involve South Korea in whatever deal that might involve.”

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