NORTH Korean defectors have revealed the unimaginable cruelty and starvation they suffered under its brutal regime as Donald Trump cosies up to Kim Jong-un.
Hyeonseo Lee, who was forced to watch her first public execution aged seven, warns Kim is a “murderer” who has fooled the world into believing he wants peace.
Getty Images Hyeonseo Lee, who was forced to watch a public execution aged seven, has warned Donald Trump not to trust Kim Jong-un
She has seen the barbarity of the despot’s regime with her own eyes, having been yanked out of class to watch a man hang to death as a child.
“It was the first time in my life I saw a public execution,” she told MailOnline. “What frightened me the most was the huge crowd.
“I was too young to really know what was going on but I was scared that a man was dying in front of me, being strangled under the bridge.”
Hyeonseo, who fled her famine-stricken home when she was 17, told the Times the authorities forced them to watch so they “never forget you must not do anything against the Dear Leader”.
Alamy Defector Yeonmi Park is shocked that Trump is trying to ‘romanticise’ a leader who has ‘killed millions’
During his historic summit with Trump in Singapore earlier this week, the dictator signed a monumental agreement to rid the Korean peninsula of weapons of mass destruction.
Hyeonseo said: “I know the nature of the regime and I don’t think it’s really going to give up its nuclear weapons.
“I don’t want people to be under the illusion he’s a nice guy, or a smart guy, as Trump said he was. That’s ridiculous. He’s a murderer.”
As Trump praises Kim for being a great leader who “loves his people”, Grace Jo, another defector who lost most of her family to famine, told of how she ate mice to survive before escaping.
AFP or licensors During their summit in Singapore, Trump said Kim was a ‘great leader’ who ‘loves his people’ North Korea highlights Trump and Kim Jong-un’s acceptance of each other’s invitations to visit White House and Pyongyang
CBS news But millions including Grace Jo’s family starved in the country during the 1990s and many continue to suffer today
She remembers eating just one meal a week during much of the 1990s when millions perished from starvation.
Her father sneaked across the border to China to beg relatives to get the family out but on his return, he was caught by North Korean guards and beaten to death.
Jo, who finally made it to China before becoming a US citizen in 2013, told CBS: “My grandmother passed away by starvation. My two younger brothers too.”
She is now living happily in America – and Hyeonseo in Seoul – having trekked across the frozen Yalu river into China, before entering South Korea as refugees.
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Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled the reclusive state since famine struck in the 1990s.
The most common route to South Korea, where they are seen is refugees, is by crossing the Yalu or Tumen rivers into China.
They must stay hidden until they cross into a neighbouring country or risk being sent back to the North where they face torture in labour camps.
Prominent defector Hyeonseo Lee was one of the lucky ones, successfully making the 2,000-mile journey to the South through Laos and Vietnam.
Many female defectors are captured the moment they step foot in China and sold as brides to farmers or forced into cyber porn, SCMP reports.
These women live in “extreme fear” of their “husbands” and can be sold multiple times without warning.
Defector Su-jin told SCMP how a trafficker promised her a new life and good job before selling her for just £110.
Another escapee, Ji Hyun Park, said the “husbands” would resell the wives like objects if they considered them “damaged”.
Others are known to have been trafficked to tourist hotspots in Vietnam where they are forced into prostitution.
Yeonmi Park, 24, also managed to flee the horrors of the North but her escape came at a brutal and traumatising cost.
After leaving her home as a terrified and malnourished 13-year-old, Yeonmi and her mother were captured by human traffickers who sold them to different men.
She told the Times: “He told me if I was his mistress he would bring my relatives back to me… That’s how I allowed myself to be raped by him.”
Yeonmi was eventually sold to the man who bought her mother but says they were both “treated like animals”.
EPA Yeonmi was abducted by human traffickers when she finally escaped North Korea Donald Trump’s joke over nuke summit lunch falls flat and Kim Jong-un’s reaction is hilarious
AP:Associated Press Trump and Kim signed a historic document in which the North Korean leader promised to denuclearise the Korean peninsula
Her father meanwhile was still in the North, trapped in a labour camp where he was “starved, tortured and beaten”.
Before the unthinkable suffering she endured during her escape, Yeonmi remembers the lies she was told about the Kim family.
She said: “We were told… our Dear Leader suffers and starves for the good of his people… We were told he doesn’t have food because he gives all the food he has to us.