North Korean defector hopes to make history as Tory election candidate

A North Korean defector is hoping to make history when she stands as a Conservative candidate in the UK’s local elections in May.

Jihyun Park arrived in the country 13 years ago and will be on the Tory ballot in Bury, Greater Manchester.

If she were to win in Moorside, which is a marginal ward, she would become the first known North Korean defector to hold political office outside Korea.

After managing to make her way to China in 1998, she was eventually caught and returned to North Korea, where she was tortured.

The 52-year-old escaped again and arrived in the UK in 2008 without being able to speak any English, but quickly settled into her new life with the help of the surrounding community, which she said gave her "lots of opportunities" and "happiness".

She told Sky News her ambition to become a local councillor was partly so she could "help residents" and because she wanted to "pay back" people who had given her fresh opportunities.

She admitted that she still has "horrible dreams" about North Korea and her experiences there, but is also passionate about human rights issues because of the "many poisonous people" around the world.

On her campaign page, she wrote that "now the UK is my home", she is not just going to accept "people’s kindness" but will also "support others going through difficult situations".

The full official candidate list for Moorside has not been published, but the area is currently represented by Labour councillors Sarah Southworth and Sandra Walmsley, and independent Annette McKay.

(c) Sky News 2021: North Korean defector hopes to make history as Tory election candidate

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