Speed Reads

speaking out

North Korean defector says Kim Jong Un's 'days are numbered'

When Thae Yong Ho, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to Britain, defected last summer, he was the most high profile person to do so in two decades. On Wednesday, he spoke with reporters for the first time about life in North Korea and why he feels Kim Jong Un won't be leader much longer.

Thae said he defected because he wanted to free his wife and two sons from the "slavery" of North Korea, and he is "sure that more defections of my colleagues will take place since North Korea is already on the slippery slope." International sanctions on the regime are working and North Koreans are becoming more aware of the outside world, he said, and analysts agree that news reports from South Korea are being smuggled in on flash drives and cellphones. Thae, who believes the only way to "resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula" is to "eliminate the Kim Jong Un regime," went on to predict there will be a "popular uprising" against Kim, and his "days are numbered."

Thae is surrounded by security 24/7, and said he is almost certain members of his family have been sent to prison camps because of his defection. He is "very sorry" about this, and wants to work to topple Kim so he can see his family again. "I wasted the first 50 years of my life," he said. "Now it is time for action, and I will be a man of action."