She fled North Korea twice, and is now running for office in Britain

TORONTO – A woman who ran away from North Korea twice and found peace in the north of England wants to give back to her adopted community by running for office.

Jihyun Park was born in North Korea, but now lives in Bury, England, and says that the gap in his life is huge.

“I was born in hell, now I live in heaven,” she said.

Park fled North Korea twice. For the first time, in 1998, she was sold at a wedding in China and had a son, but after six years of living in China, she was arrested and separated from her son and sent back to North Korea.

In a correctional facility, then a labor camp in Songpyeong district, he suffered torture and starvation. In the camp, the prisoners start working from 4:30 am and sometimes by 8 or 9 am

The task involved clearing the land for farming with his bare hands, According to amnesty international.

Park was allowed to leave the labor camp only when he had a tetanus in his leg and was not able to walk.

From there, she managed to make it back to China and reunited with her son in 2005. As the pair attempted to cross into Mongolia, she met the man to whom she would eventually marry, a partner in North Korea.

Eventually, Park and his family finally found happiness as refugees in Britain in 2008.

“I love that I’m a refugee,” she said. “A refugee is a freedom person.”

From that desperate trip 13 years ago, Park has now decided to run for public office in the upcoming May 6 election, which she now calls as her hometown.

If she wins a seat on the local council, it will make British history.

“All she wants to do is go to a local community to help people and give them a chance to succeed,” said James Daly, a Conservative MP from Bury. “Something that is clearly limited in North Korea.”

Honored by Amnesty International for bravery, it now aims to please others. And she knows in advance how governments can allow more people to listen, or silence them altogether.

“When I lived in North Korea, my government took everything away,” she said. “My hopes, my dreams.”

“I want to smile again.”

Still, she does not think of herself as a politician, but a grateful refugee, who has to give back.


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