Escaping North Korea | Thae Yong-ho
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Date: Wednesday, 11th Sep 2019
Role: Former Minister of North Korean Embassy in London
Following World War II Korea divided. The Soviet Union took control of northern Korea, and the United States took control of the south.
With the onset of the cold war, negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States designed to unify Korea broke down, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was born.
Since the inception of the People's Republic of Korea, the people of North Korea have defected for political, religious or economic reasons. An estimated 100-300 thousand North Koreans have defected, primarily using China as an escape route. If caught, they face deportation back, the possibility of execution and their entire families sent to labour camps.
North Korea's most senior defector is Thae Yong-ho, formerly the Minister of North Korean Embassy in London. In 2016 Mr Thae made the dangerous and challenging decision to defect to South Korea.
In this interview, I talk with Mr. Thae about life in North Korea, his defection to South Korea, the risks, the lack of contact with his family and how getting information of Western culture to the North Korean youth may trigger a revolution.
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00:00:00 - Show intro
00:01:41 - Welcoming Mr. Thae to the show
00:03:16 - Working for the North Korean regime
00:07:58 - Adjustment to Western life in Denmark
00:09:25 - North Korean class system
00:11:22 - Defecting to South Korea
00:19:41 - Assassination of Kim Jong-nam
00:24:03 - Relationship with Donald Trump
00:30:04 - Labor camps in Russia
00:31:32 - Goals for change in North Korea
00:34:16 - Reunification with the South
00:36:00 - How pop can trigger a revolution
00:38:43 - Black markets in North Korea
00:42:46 - Mobile phones
00:44:07 - Kim Jong-un's Achilles' heel
00:46:05 - Tourism in North Korea
00:47:36 - How the international community can help
Connect with Mr. Thae:
About North Korea:
Human Rights Watch: North Korea's Caste System
Nuclear Threat Initiative: North Korea
Council on Foreign Relations: What to Know About Sanctions on North Korea
Council on Foreign Relations: The China–North Korea Relationship
Foundation for Economic Education: In North Korea, Black Markets Are Saving Lives
Mentioned in the show:
Wikipedia: Pyongyang school of foreign language studies
Arms Control Association: Advances in North Korea’s Missile Program and What Comes Next
The New York Times: North Koreans in Russia Work ‘Basically in the Situation of Slaves’
VOA News: Pop Culture Revolution in North Korea?
The New York Times: North Korea Revalues Its Currency
The New York Times: North Koreans Rely on Smuggled Cellphones to Connect to the Outside World
People mentioned in the show:
Kim Jong-il: Wikipedia
Kim Jong-un: Wikipedia
Kim Jong-nam: Wikipedia
Vexxed: Illеgally Entering North Korea
THANK YOU TO MY SPONSOR
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