North Korean refugee speaks out, advocates for others

There are over 200 N. Korean refugees living in the U.S.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. - A North Korean refugee speaks out after 12 years about her hardships she’s faced and after losing several family members.

Grace Jo has spoken out as she shares her story as a North Korean refugee. Back in 2006, she managed to escape her home after her family members were tortured.


"There are still thousands of North Koreans defectors - children, elders, and women they are dying in the prisons,” said North Korean defector, Grace Jo.


Two of grace's brothers died of starvation. Grace's father was tortured and starved to death. And Grace shared she almost starved to death as a child as well - that’s why today she advocates for her fellow refugees.


"Grace Jo is one of only 200 refugees from North Korea in the United States - there are no words to potentially describe her experience" said Institute of Economics International Affairs director, Colin Parks.

There are currently 217 North Korean refugees in the U.S. and according to Jo, about 15 to 20 in our area.  During the speech, Jo firmly spoke out against North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and his regime.



Jo serves as a vice president of NK in USA - the first human rights organization established by North Korean defectors in America.


"That’s why we believe speaking out to people and to the world is very important to North Korean people who are still surviving in North Korea," said Jo.


Now that grace is a U.S. citizen and a student at Montgomery College she hopes to use her platform to become an international human rights lawyer helping other refugees.


"Freedom is very valuable and I feel like this is a treasure for human beings so we want to grant that freedom to North Korean people too" said Jo.


Jo says she will continue her efforts so others like her - can find a safe passage for freedom.


The Fund for American Studies program hosted this event. And the organization grace works with also helps refugees from China.


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