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Ji Seong-ho at the Whitehouse (Credit: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Who is North Korean defector Ji Seong Ho and why is he sure Kim Jong Un is dead

JI SEONG HO who defected from the totalitarian state and became a politician in South Korea said Friday he is “99 percent sure Kim Jong Un is dead”.

The news was secreted out of the isolated country by Ji Seong ho’s contacts who he has been in contact with since he repatriated to the south.

The lawmaker, who was elected to a proportional representation seat representing the Future Korea Party in Seoul, has suggested all signals from his contacts in the north show that the regime is in the midst of a complex succession crisis, alongside trying to combat the affects of the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the country.

Ji Seong Ho’s escape from North Korea involved an epic track across the wilderness of northern Manchuria using crutches as he lost an arm and a leg in North Korea after being struck by a train.

Ji Seong Ho described his upbringing in the north eastern province of North Hamgyong.

He said: “My family survived by eating the ground-up cores of corn husks and the roots of cabbages.

“There was no meat and never any oil.

“Sometimes we could get seaweed and we would also eat mountain grasses.

“At harvest time, rats in the field would stash seeds down their burrows, which we would dig up.

“Often the rats would attack us and we would club some of them to death and that would give us a real feast.”

Ji supplemented his daily food intake by stealing coal from nearby trains and exchanging these for food in markets.

One one coal foraging incident Ji was struck my a train and lost his arm and leg in the process.

The hospital authorities wished to let him die after the accident, but the pleading of his mother persuaded them to operate, after a four hour ordeal, without anaesthesia, he was left permanently disabled, after loosing one arm and one leg.

The North Korean authorities dispising his disability beat him, took away his crutches and said he should keep indoors as his disability was an embarrassment for North Korea.

His wounds became infected many times, and his father was unable to provide antibiotics, even though his father was a loyal member of the North Korean Worker’s Party.

This changed his father’s opinion of the regime, and the family decided to escape across the Tumen river into China.

His mother and sister escaped first, followed by his brother and himself, unfortunately his father was captured and tortured to death by North Korea authorities.

Ji was born in 1982 close to the notorious North Korean concentration camp Hoeryong.

The camp was crammed with an estimated 50,000 North Korea undesirables, such as Christians and returnees from Japan.

Of the conditions in the camp, one report from a guard described his first day at the camp being presented with a multitude of “walking skeletons, dwarfs, and cripples in rags”.

Other reports spoke of high death rates and bodies loaded on trucks and thrown into the smelting furnace of the adjoining steel works.

Ji has said to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that he cannot reveal the source of his information, but he said it is highly likely now that Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, will become the next leader of the despotic state.

Recently South Korea intelligence suggested that the North Korean supreme leader was hiding out in one of his secluded palaces in order to avoid contracting coronavirus.

With his obesity and reported heart problems contracting coronavirus would be detrimental to his health.

South Korea’s unification minister Kim Yeon-chul last week revealed his “government is aware of Kim Jong-un’s location.”

He stated that Kim Jong Un is not in Pyongyang as he is avoiding the pandemic that is sweeping through the capital.

Speaking to a parliamentary hearing he said: “It is true that he had never missed the anniversary for Kim Il-sung’s birthday since he took power, but many anniversary events including celebrations and a banquet had been cancelled because of coronavirus.”

He added: “I don’t think that’s particularly unusual given the current (coronavirus) situation.”

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