Kim Seong Min: Heroes

Source:  The Freedom Collection /

Kim Seong Min was born in 1962. He grew up and received his education in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim is the son of a poet and was trained as a writer. After serving ten years in the military, he worked in one of the regime’s propaganda offices. Troubled by the society in which he lived, Kim escaped to China in 1997. He eventually arrived in Seoul, South Korea in 1999, and ever since has fought for the liberation and democratization of his homeland.

In 2004, Kim established Free North Korea Radio (FNKR) to broadcast messages about freedom to those being oppressed and exploited by the regime in Pyongyang. These tireless efforts have been recognized by several international awards, including the “Prize for Press Freedom” from Reporters Without Borders and the “Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award” from the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. Recently, Kim was elected as a Representative of the Coalition to Promote the Democratization of North Korea, an alliance of North Korean defector organizations based in South Korea.

I was encouraged by Mr. Hwang Jang-yop [Hwang Jang-yop was a senior leadership figure in North Korea who defected to South Korea in 1997.] who also defected from North Korea, when I made up my mind to escape from North Korea. He had a strong vision of helping the North Korean people even though he had to give up all of his privileges while living in North Korea.

In April of 2006, President Bush took the time to meet us and said that the Kim Jong Il regime is evil. He encouraged all of the North Korean defectors who attended that event and he patted us on our shoulders to give us words and thoughts of encouragement. It gave us a lot of pride and encouraged us with those gestures. At that time it was a difficult moment for us and it helped to receive the kind of encouragement from the President of the United States. With each sentence and each word President Bush provided us a great source of courage and pride not only for the North Korean defectors that were present but also for the North Korean people who received the news.

In North Korea I was a writer and I am currently studying a PhD program in writing. I also admire President Havel of Czechoslovakia who was also an ordinary citizen and a writer and accomplished many things of democracy for Czechoslovakia. I met him a couple of times and I am always impressed with his doings. Although he was nothing but an ordinary citizen at first, I admire that he went to great levels.

The Vaclav Havel Center