Timothy Cho (33), a former child beggar known as ‘kkotjebi’ from North Korea, is running for a member of a ward off council at the May 6 local elections in the U.K. Two former North Korean defectors including Choi and Park Ji-hyeon (52, female), head of the North Korean human rights group, Jinggeomdari (stepping stones), have declared candidacies for the elections.
According to Voice of America on Saturday, Cho, a former North Korean defector, has been named a Conservative Party candidate for a member of the ward council of Denton, Manchester in the U.K. The city, in eastern Manchester, has a population of about 36,000.
Separated from his parents at a young age, Cho continued to live as kkotjebi, before defecting to China in 2004. Even after defecting the North, he was reportedly repatriated back to the North and escaped from the Stalinist country again. After admitted as a refugee in the U.K. in 2008, he acquired a master’s degree in international relations and security from the University of Liverpool, before joining the political circle as an assistant to a member of the House of Commons. He is currently serving as an official for the “All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea.”
“Politics in the U.K. is too different from the way politics was viewed (in North Korea). As I ran in an election campaign in person, I have been inspired, and came to witness in person that this is democracy and civil society,” Cho told VOA, as he explains the reason for his candidacy. “I think that it would be my mandate to make North Korean people to become a member of democracy through the dream, courage and hope that I developed while learning U.K. politics through experience in person.” He said even if he loses this particular election, he will continuously challenge in elections going forward.