For 17 years, Hyeonseo Lee lived under the thumb of the brutal and isolated regime in North Korea. She didn’t know what capitalism was, or what democracy was, and for a long time, she believed the violence -- the public executions, the families who disappeared in the middle of the night to political prisons -- was normal.
“The outside world was living in our imagination,” she said during an interview on Wednesday with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “All the horrible things we thought happened in the outside.”
After fleeing from the violence at age 17 and living in China under a pseudonym for nearly a decade to avoid repatriation, Lee returned more than 12 years later to help her family to escape.
“My situation was one of the luckiest ones from North Korea,” she said. “I was living on the border, so we were friends with the military border guards. They were my uncles, or brothers. That’s how they helped me to cross the border into China. They didn’t know I was escaping the country.”
Lee is now an activist in South Korea.
And when she saw President Trump meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore just last week, she immediately distrusted the North Korean dictator.
Kim reportedly agreed to work toward complete denuclearization of the peninsula in exchange for the U.S. suspending all military exercises in South Korea. The president has been criticized for promising too much in exchange for a non-binding promise from Pyongyang (the agreement notably excluded phrases that would make any denuclearization process “irreversible” or “verifiable.”)
“They can trick the world, trick America, but I hope I’m wrong,” Lee said, adding, “We shouldn’t forget he’s a murderer. He’s a dictator. He’s killed so many innocent generals.”