My crutches: A North Korean defector's moving story

World

My crutches: A North Korean defector's moving story

Trump's refugee posterboy tells his story

Heekyong Yang and James Pearson

Ji Seong-ho, 35, a North Korean defector who appeared at President Trump’s State of the Union address this week, is from Hoeryong, near the border with China.
This is an edited translation of his story about the wooden crutches that he left North Korea with in 2006:
“I lived as a child beggar in North Korea. I was stealing coal from a train when I fell off and lost my leg and my hand.I had to bring the crutches with me. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have made it here. The state doesn’t help you in North Korea, and people who need crutches make their own. Mine are therefore not factory-made so they’re not perfect and break easily.
I had several pairs of crutches but they all broke, and this was the last pair. I used these crutches for 10 years, until I was 25, when I arrived in South Korea.
I would steal coals from moving trains and fall off, destroying my crutches. Or I would get beaten up by the police and they’d take and then break my crutches. When they broke, I would make new ones. When I had new ones, I could go back outside.
When I first arrived in South Korea I thought about throwing them out.
South Korea’s intelligence agency gave me a prosthetic leg.
My friends said I should throw the crutches out and not think about North Korea. They said I should show Kim Jong Il I was living a new life in South Korea and throw out everything I had from the North. Some asked if I got upset when I saw my crutches.
But I couldn’t just throw them out. To make my crutches, my friends had given me some wood that they had bought, and someone I knew in North Korea who had carpentry skills had made them. It was my father who added the final touches.
There is a lot of love from my North Korean friends and family in these crutches. So I didn’t throw them out. The South Korean government gave me some new crutches because the wood from my North Korean ones is hard and painful. But I still keep them, so as not to forget those memories.”
− ReutersMeanwhile ... Trump’s boasts are porkies
President Donald Trump wants the world to know he’s not the only one impressed by his maiden State of the Union speech performance, boasting on Thursday of the “highest” television audience numbers in history. Except, they weren’t.
“Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech. 45.6-million people watched, the highest number in history,” Trump tweeted.“@FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!” he added, referring to his preferred cable and satellite television news channel.But Nielsen ratings show that three of Trump’s predecessors surpassed his audience numbers during their first time giving the high-profile speech before Congress.
Democrat Bill Clinton had 45.8 million viewers in 1994, compared to 51.8 million for George W. Bush, a Republican, in 2002 and Democrat Barack Obama’s 48 million in 2010.− AFP

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