June 6 - A new generation of defectors from North Korea step in the limelight to tell their stories, marking a major change. Paul Chapman reports.
▲ Hide Transcript
▶ View Transcript
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL
North Korean defector Lee Hyeon-seo tells her story to the TED conference in California.
Since February her speech has picked up 1.6 million internet views.
Once such defectors to South Korea lived on the margins of society.
Lee, now a university student in Seoul, is one of a new generation no longer prepared to keep quiet.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 33-YEAR-OLD NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR LEE HYEON-SEO SAYING:
"I'd like to speak out more to the international community about North Korean defectors. So I have to study English diligently. And I want to study human rights issues in North Korea and I'm now interested in international civil rights as well."
Ji Seong-ho fought his way across the border into China on makeshift crutches.
He lost his left leg and hand falling from a moving train as he tried to steal coal to make money.
Today he's president of an organisation which broadcasts each week from South Korea to the North.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 31-YEAR-OLD NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR JI SEONG-HO SAYING:
"Messages from young generation should flow into North Korea. People in North Korea should know how we live, what we think and dream. And they should know where they are, what they are doing and whether the 10-year military service is really helping them."
Ji was among the demonstrators protesting against the forced repatriation of North Koreans.
The United Nations said in May month it had credible evidence that China sent back nine young defectors in May, possibly to face severe punishment or even execution.
North Korean state broadcaster KRT on Wednesday accused South Korean activists of abducting them.
(SOUNDBITE)(Korean) KRT NEWS READER SAYING:
"Recently a case of an unprecedented anti-humanitarian act of atrocity has been disclosed where traitorous puppet elements tried to trick and kidnap our youths and drag them to South Korea."
South Korea says it's now home to about 25, 000 defectors from the North.
The younger generation is hoping its more vocal attitude will speed the end of South Korean prejudice they say is already on the ebb.