Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean ambassador to the United Kingdom who defected to Republic of Korea last year, has won the “2017 Human Rights of the Year Award,” given by the National Assembly’s Human Rights Forum and the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for Asian Human Rights (IPCAHR).
“I think this award embraces the wishes of those who want me to work hard to improve the human rights situations in North Korea,” Thae spoke about how he feels at the awarding ceremony at National Assembly Members’ Office on Monday. “I will fight until the North Koreans are freed from their lives as slaves, and the day of unification.”
Rep. Hong Il-pyo from the Liberty Korea Party, who is a member of the National Assembly’s Human Rights Forum, spoke of the reason for awarding Thae, by saying, “Thae has endlessly devoted himself to the democratization of North Korea and improvement of North Korea’s human rights.”
After the awarding ceremony, Thae met with members of the National Assembly’s Human Rights Forum and spoke about the situations in North Korea. According to the lawmakers, they also talked about Kim Jong Un climbing to the top of Mount Baekdu, which is called the holy land of North Korean partisans, in the cold weather.
“If the latest sanctions against North Korea continues for one or two years, North Korea cannot help but reach the level of collapse,” Thae said. “Kim Jong Un will eventually try to make a situation to have a conversation and remove sanctions against North Korea.” It is said that he anticipated that North Korea will do a peace offensive with Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games opening in February 2018.
“If North Korea makes a situation to have a conversation, it is better to maintain the sanctions rather than to respond to it immediately,” Thae was quoted as saying. “The Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile has not been place in a combat arrangement yet. The North needs to mass-produce the ICBM missile, which is difficult for the regime to do under the sanctions.”
About the new 9-wheel transporter erector launcher (TEL) North Korea revealed while launching the Hwasong-15, the research advisor at the Institute for National Security Strategy was also quoted as saying, “The photographs of Kim Jong Un’s inspection of a local tire factory in Chagang Province were taken in front of a diagram rather than the actual thing. It seems that they don’t have the actual capability to produce it.”
“Humanitarian aid and support is necessary, but the South Korean government must make sure that North Koreans know that South Korea helped them, rather than providing aid and support through international organizations,” Thae added.
“A North Korean soldier at the Joint Security Area (JSA) who escaped to the South asked to play songs and turn on the TV, instead of asking for water or food, as soon as he recovered at the hospital,” Thae said in his acceptance speech. “What Kim Jong Un’s regime is afraid of is not attack from the United States, but North Koreans’ public sentiment that is moving toward South Korea.”
Thae sang the national anthem of Republic of Korea clearly, when it was played at the awarding ceremony. He also posed for pictures with members from organizations for North Korean refugees. “This award must be given to these people who work hard in silence,” Thae said.