Many are weighing in on the historic summit that took place yesterday between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. North Korean refugees have also been watching closely, and are hoping that this first meeting between the two leaders won’t be the last, and change will come soon to their homeland.
At age 22, Joseph Han had two choices -- stay in North Korea and die of starvation or flee the country and risk being executed. He took that risk in 1999. Now, like other North Korean refugees, Joseph wants to see changes, and tells us the summit is an important first step. He shared his story exclusively with FOX 26.
“It’s very desperate, so many people died of starvation. My family almost died, also I was almost dead. I worked as a teacher at a high school but I didn’t get paid. If you don’t come to work I might report you to the police department,” says Joseph.
This was when he decided to sell his possessions, not wanting to get caught with anything that may lead back to his family. He then started a two-day journey to China by train.
“Some people were in charge of the train but if I paid some money then they allowed me to get on the train," Joseph says. "Scared but it was just hidden because even if I stay there I would die. So if I go there somebody would kill me, so I’m not sure. I might survive in China.”
He spent almost 10 years in different countries in Asia. Then in 2009, he got the opportunity to come to America on a student visa to earn his doctorate in theoretical nuclear physics at Texas A&M. He came with his wife, and child. He now has his PhD and three children. He tells FOX 26 he wishes more was discussed during the summit, like human rights, but says he respects President Trump and is sure more meetings will follow. Joseph hopes that he can help scientist in North Korea if our relationship changes.
“Many scientists in North Korea they are involved with some projects that are related to weapons. I want to give them an opportunity to use their knowledge for improving human civilization,” Joseph says.
Dr. Han says he would love to go back to visit North Korea, if there is change. He is content with making the United States his permanent home.