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North Korean Defectors Visit VOA

Tell personal stories, cite need for outside information

Washington, D.C., May 1, 2009 - Thirty North Korean defectors, participating in a radio roundtable discussion at the Voice of America (VOA), highlighted the need for outside broadcasting to their country where there is no freedom of press.

"They talked about how important it is for people inside North Korea to get information about what's happening inside and outside the country," said Dong Hyuk Lee, chief of VOA's Korean Service, about the Thursday visit. VOA broadcasts 35 hours a week in Korean, reaching listeners on shortwave and medium-wave frequencies. It is also available on Internet (

Chul-ho Kang, founder of the Saetu Church in South Korea, said later that he listened to VOA in China after fleeing North Korea. "One VOA broadcast that I remember the most was a report about the lifestyle of the elite in North Korea, and how different it is from the daily struggles of the average North Korean," he said.

Kang said that he established his church to provide worship and programs for the thousands of defectors who have fled to South Korea.

Kim Young Soon, a former dancer in North Korea, recounted how she fled the country in 2001. She traveled to China, Cambodia and Thailand before reaching South Korea two years later. Kim is an adviser at the Democracy Network against North Korean Gulag.

The group is visiting the United States during North Korean Freedom Week. Their trip was sponsored by the Defense Forum Foundation, a non-profit.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail