A NORTH Korean man who suffered at the hands of the regime before escaping the rogue nation, has been praised by US President Donald Trump in his first State of the Union address.
Ji Seong-ho attended the ceremony at the American Capitol on Tuesday and received a special mention and round of applause from the president and attending representatives.
Trump told Ji’s story, one of a starving boy in North Korea some 20 years ago, whose limbs were run over by a train after he collapsed in exhaustion on the tracks before enduring torture at the hands of North Korean authorities.
“Seong-ho travelled thousands of miles on crutches all across China and Southeast Asia to freedom,” Trump continued. “Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.”
The human rights activist now lives in Seoul, where he helps broadcast information into North Korea and facilitates the resettlement of defectors in South Korea.
Trump said Ji’s story was a “testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.”
Alongside Ji were Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents of Otto Warmbier, the exchange student who died shortly after his return to the US after having spent 17 months of captivity in North Korea. On his return, Otto was found to has suffered significant injury and brain damage. The Warmbiers, along with their children Austin and Greta, attended the address where Trump pledged “to honour Otto’s memory with total American resolve.”
Tensions between the United States and North Korea have heightened under the Trump administration as Pyongyang continues its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the US mainland.
An escalating war of words between the US president and the reclusive regime has drawn concern of a military strike. In his new year address to the nation, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un again threatened the US with his nuclear capability.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
In response, Trump took to Twitter, saying: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
In Tuesday’s address, Trump restated his approach of “maximum pressure” to address the regime’s weapons development.
“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” he said. “I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”