North Korea is the least free country in the world with a repressive hereditary political leadership and one of the world’s worst human rights records. On New Year’s Day in 2003, Mike Kim gave up his financial planning business in Chicago, Illinois and booked a one-way ticket to China to help North Korean refugees. While living near the China-North Korea border, Kim operated undercover as a North Korean taekwondo student training under two well-known masters from Pyongyang. From there, he used a 6,000-mile underground railroad to lead many North Korean refugees and sex trafficking victims to safety in Southeast Asia.
His memoir, Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country, describes his harrowing experiences at the China-North Korea border. Kim also founded Crossing Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees.
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