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Mar 24, 2023
Korean Defector-Turned-Lawmaker Invited to Address US Summit
(Bloomberg) -- The US invited a South Korean lawmaker who defected from North Korea to address a Washington DC summit next week in a move likely to anger Pyongyang.
Ji Seong-ho is set to deliver a speech Tuesday in a panel discussion hosted by the bipartisan Commission of the US House of Representatives, House of Democracy Partnership. His office said on Saturday that he will emphasize the need for checks and balances in political systems and highlight how absolute power leads to corruption in authoritarian regimes.
Ji’s speech is expected to draw attention from North Korea, which has been threatening defector-turned-lawmakers like him and blaming the US and South Korea for stoking tensions.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has been pushing to strengthen cooperation with allies through shared values, including human rights.
The stance has drawn strong opposition from Pyongyang and resulted in military provocations. Most recently, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw tests of weapons designed to deliver nuclear strikes against the U.S. and its allies, including a new underwater drone.
Ji is a member of South Korea’s ruling conservative People Power Party. Born in North Korea in 1982, he grew up during the famine of the 1990s and fled to China before eventually making his way to South Korea in 2006. Ji was elected to the South Korean National Assembly in 2020.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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