WASHINGTON (January 31, 2018) — North Korean defector and HRF partner Ji Seong-ho was honored during the State of the Union Address last night in Washington, D.C. Seong-ho was featured in the presidential address for more than three minutes, culminating with a standing ovation.
"It is a momentous and inspiring occasion for North Korean defectors everywhere that they have gained such visibility. The President of the United States did the right thing by choosing to highlight the story of Seong-ho's remarkable escape from North Korea to freedom in South Korea," said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. "Defectors like Seong-ho so rarely get this kind of attention. It is so richly deserved and now, viewers should take time to learn more about this remarkable individual and his work through his human rights non-profit NAUH — Now, Action, and Unity for Human Rights."
Ji Seong-ho began to capture the world's attention in 2015 after his keynote speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway was widely celebrated. An image of him holding up the crutches that his father carved for him while he was still in North Korea —
crutches he later used to drag himself 6,000 miles to freedom — went viral after his talk. A few months later, HRF raised more than $37,000 for his organization in an online fundraiser. Since then, HRF has continued to support Seong-ho's remarkable organization, which rescues North Koreans trapped in China, and broadcasts messages of truth and hope via radio to the North Koreans still trapped under Kim Jong-un's regime. Most recently, Seong-ho spoke in September 2017 at HRF's Oslo Freedom Forum in New York, where his story was made into a viral video by Business Insider.
During the highly-publicized presidential address, Ji Seong-ho's story of determination stood out. The White House featured Ji Seong-ho's profile across its Facebook and Twitter accounts, while his Oslo Freedom Forum testimony was shared by The Washington Post, BBC, Forbes, The Guardian, CNN, and thousands of social media users across the world.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.