- Trump recounted the tearful story of Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector, during his first State of the Union address.
- The defector, a multiple amputee, held up his crutches amid resounding cheers.
During his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump recounted the tearful story of Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector who endured multiple amputations under devastating circumstances as a child:
“In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food, which were very hard to get. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain or the hurt.
His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves, permanently stunting their own growth.”
Seong-ho was later tortured after returning from China, but “resolved after that to be free,” Trump said. Seong-ho travelled thousands of miles on his crutches and eventually made it to Seoul, South Korea, where he now assists fellow defectors.
“Today he has a new leg,” Trump continued, “But Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those old crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.”
Seong-ho stood triumphantly and raised his wooden crutches amid roaring applause from lawmakers in both parties.
“Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom,” Trump said. “It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America.”
Also in attendance were family members of Otto Warmbier, the US student who visited North Korea, was later imprisoned and fell ill while in custody before he was sent back to the US. He died shortly after.
“Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight – along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta,” Trump said. “You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honour Otto’s memory with American resolve.”
Watch the clip here:
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 31, 2018
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