Ji Seong-ho was disabled at age 16 after a terrible accident. During the extreme famines of the 1990s, Ji helped feed his family by scavenging pieces of coal from passing trains and exchanging them for food on the black market. One day, faint from hunger, he slipped and fell onto the trucks. His arm and leg were crushed. Amputation followed – without anesthesia.
After recovering and realizing there was no future for him in North Korea, given the regime’s contempt for people with disabilities, Seong-ho escaped in 2006 on hand-made crutches. He embarked on a brutal journey of 6,000 miles through China and Southeast Asia to reach South Korea.
In 2010, Seong-ho started his organization Now Action Unity and Human Rights (NAUH). Since 2011, NAUH has rescued 300 North Korean refugees trapped in China, including 72 refugees in 2017 alone. NAUH has also conducted numerous education tours, cultural exchanges, and demonstrations in South Korea, recognizing that the gap between North and South Koreans must be bridged to prepare for reunification.
At the 2018 U.S. State of the Union, Seong-ho’s incredible story was broadcast to millions of people. The President called him an “inspiration to us all” and he received a standing ovation from all members in the chamber. Seong-ho is Chairman of the nonprofit Freedom for North Korea.