Defector: North Korea Headed for 'Popular Uprising'
Thae Yong Ho says Kim Jong Un's 'days are numbered'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2017 1:18 PM CST
Former North Korean deputy ambassador to the UK, Thae Yong Ho speaks with media at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.   (Ed Jones, Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – North Korea is on a "slippery slope" toward a "popular uprising," says a former diplomat who defected from the country last year. Thae Yong Ho went on to say that Kim Jong Un's "days are numbered," the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the New York Times, Thae spoke to reporters Wednesday, part of a series of interviews he's been giving since December. He's the highest-ranking North Korean defector in decades. Thae says he "wasted the first 50 years of my life" but that now he'll "be a man of action," dedicated to bringing down Kim's regime in North Korea. He says it's the outside world's job to "spray gasoline" on North Korea so that its people can "set fire to it," the Guardian reports.

Thae says Kim's grip on North Korea is loosening as technology makes it easier for outside culture to spread there. TV shows from South Korea and movies from China are smuggled across the border in cellphones and flash drives. Thae says with greater views of the outside world, North Koreans will soon realize "they have the right to live freely." In fact, he says dissent is already spreading among both ordinary citizens and the elite. But he says the world must not compromise with Kim; international sanctions are working. Sitting down with Kim would give him a victory he desperately needs, and defeating Kim is the only way of solving the growing North Korean nuclear problem, Thae says.

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