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This North Korean defector says she isn't sure anything will change in the wake of Trump-Kim summit

This North Korean defector doubts the Kim regime would give up nuclear program


LOS ANGELES (Circa) -- In California, more than 5,000 miles away from her home country, May can still picture the famine-stricken kids that were commonplace to her back in 2012.

"I still vividly remember the way they’d pick up anything from the streets to eat," May says.

"I don’t think anything will change."
May, North Korean defector

She knows firsthand what it's like to live in North Korea.

"In the North Korean society, you’re safe to assume that at least one out of three people is a government spy," says May. "You live under total surveillance. It can be summed up as a prison without bars. Even before each meal, we thank the leaders in prayer.”

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May arrived from North Korea to the U.S. in 2013.

May, who prefers to use a nickname for security concerns, defected from the totalitarian dictatorship six years ago, leaving behind three children. Thinking of them makes her visibly sad, and then furious about the state of things in North Korea.

"If Kim Jong Un cares for the citizens as he would his family, if he cares even a little bit about the kids as he would his own child, he should fight for the rights of his people instead of nuclear weapons.”

In the North Korean society, you’re safe to assume that at least one out of three people is a government spy.
May, North Korean defector

Following the summit between Kim Jong Un and President Trump, we met up with May in Los Angeles, where she now lives. We met at a church with her pastor, Pastor Kim. They're both part of the North Koreans in America Association.

"I was expecting a lot from the US-North Korea summit, but as I was watching, I felt like it meant very little to the 25 million people in North Korea. I wonder if anything will really change," said May.

During the summit, President Trump gave North Korea "security guarantees," Kim Jong Un committed to working "toward" denuclearization. That last part is something she doubts.

“I don’t think anything will change," said May. "I scoff at the idea of North Korea giving up nuclear weapons.“

She said she was disappointed to see so much of the summit focus on denuclearization, instead of human rights

"North Korean people care very little about nuclear weapons," said May. We don’t care for being No. 1 in nuclear weapons or being a strong country. What kind of country and leader doesn’t guarantee its own people their basic rights? They’re willing to starve people to have nuclear weapons.What’s the use of these nuclear weapons when so many people are starving to death?"

May says she can also guess how North Korea is covering the summit.

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May and Pastor Kim walking the halls of The Giving Church.

"The media in North Korea will probably say Kim Jong Un agreed to meet with the Americans because the American 'yankees' succumbed."

Since then, I’ve cheered for Trump.
May, North Korean defector

While she's disappointed with the result of the summit, she says she admires Trump's willingness to work with North Korea.

"I cried so much when President Trump visited South Korea and gave a speech, and when he mentioned North Korea’s human rights issue during his State of the Union address," said May. "The fact that a foreign president talked about it in the way he did made me sob. Since then, I’ve cheered for Trump.”

As one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have managed to escape North Korea since 1953, May has a unique perspective on what needs to be done to work with North Korea, and she wants to share that with the U.S. president.

"I don’t know a lot about politics, but I hope he isn’t used by the North Korean government because people are still starving to death in North Korea. I hope he prioritizes and respects North Korean people’s human rights first."

Ariel Min contributed to this report.

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