A North Korean defector whose father was a senior officer under despot Kim Jong-Un has revealed a terrifying insight from within his feared inner-circle.
Ex-regime insider Hee Yeon Lim, 26, is risking her own life by telling the world how paranoid Kim lives like an emperor whilst casually ordering executions of confidantes and even relatives.
The petite Pyongyang graduate offers a rare glimpse inside a nuclear-weapons obsessed leader who has imprisoned 25 million starving people in grinding poverty.
As Kim’s lunatic weapons programme hurtles towards all-out war she wants to expose the tyrant who is dangerously clashing with America’s President Trump .
Just days after Kim tested a nuclear blast ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb, Hee Yeon spoke to the Mirror at a secret location in Seoul, South Korea.
As world leaders await Kim’s next move against potentially explosive President Trump in their risky game of bluff and threat she revealed how he:
– Forces even Pyongyang’s upper class elite to watch horrific executions
– Brainwashes people with claims of invincibility and threats to the US.
– Hides in hundreds of secret luxury boltholes deep within his rogue state- making it virtually impossible for western spy agencies to know where he is at any one time.
– Has sex slaves, plucked as teenagers from school, despite his marriage to Ri Sol-ju, mum of his three children.
– Enjoys £1,000 a-time lunches whilst his subjects survive eating grass.
Hee Yeon fled North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, where she grew up, in 2015 and made it to Seoul last year.
She escaped with her mum and younger brother after her father Colonel Wui Yeon Lim, a heavy drinker, of the Korean People’s Army died at 51.
She knew she was fleeing a life of privilege as one of a few thousand families allowed to live in Pyongyang, the capital.
Her family shared a detached state home in a quiet part of the city and were driven everywhere by her father’s aide – a uniformed soldier permanently on-call.
She was driven to and collected from school every day in the state provided brown-coloured Chinese-made SUV-style vehicle.
And she says: “I had friends like any other kids. But we knew from an early age what not to say – never to question the then leader Kim Jong- Il – Kim Jong-Un’s father even when I was young.
“Even when I grew up I thought I had a normal life, always with the restriction publicly of not having anything other than adoration for the regime.
“We ate Japanese-style food at home, bought from bribe money given to my father. It was Japanese because my family is Korean-Japanese originally.
“To be honest I even had a boyfriend, a relationship when I fled. It was possible, of course, but I could never tell him my plans to escape. I cannot go into his details as it would not be right. In my mind I just said: “Bye bye. I had to do it.”
But despite the apparent normality of her Pyongyang society life there was always terror around the corner.
Hee Yeon – her name has been changed for her security- says: “Despite our privilege we were scared. I saw terrible things in Pyongyang.”
She saw the public murder of 11 North Korean musicians accused of making a pornographic video.
Speaking in Seoul she says the executions came shortly after Swiss-educated Kim succeeded his late father Kim Jong-Il.
She recalls: “We were ordered to leave our classes by security men and made to travel to the Military Academy in Pyongyang. There is a sports ground there, a kind of stadium.
“The musicians were brought out, tied up, hooded and apparently gagged, so they could not make a noise, not beg for mercy or even scream.
“What I saw that day made me sick in my stomach. They were lashed to the end of anti-aircraft guns.
“There were around 10,000 people ordered to watch that day and I was standing 200 feet from these victims.
“A gun was fired, the noise was deafening, absolutely terrifying and the guns were fired one after the other.
“The musicians just disappeared each time the guns were fired into them. Their bodies were blown to bits, totally destroyed, blood and bits flying everywhere.
“And then after that military tanks moved in and they ran over the bits on the ground where the remains lay.
“The tracks of the tanks were run over the remains and blood repeatedly, over and over again and made to grind the remains, to smash them into the ground until there was nothing left.
“I felt desperately ill from witnessing this. It was so horrible and I could not eat for three days as it made my stomach churn.”
Kim Jong-Un, 33, was educated in Switzerland apparently under the false name Pak Chol. Schoolmates believed he was the son of an embassy driver.
He returned to North Korea aged 15 and later took over leadership in his late 20’s after his father Kim Jong-Il died– but he is thought to be the cruellest the country has had and even Pyongyang’s high society is petrified of him.
Even as a relatively wealthy girl, untouched by North Korea’s dire poverty, Hee Yeon fled after witnessing the executions, classmates dragged into sex slavery and Kim’s astonishingly expensive gluttony.
Nobody is immune to Kim’s murderousness.
Earlier this year the ruthless leader assassinated his playboy half-brother Kim Jong Nam with a lethal nerve agent slapped on him in a Kuala Lumpur airport by female agents.
Kim apparently feared his half-brother was involved in a China-backed plot to overthrow him.
Others, including Kim’s uncle and many officials with China-links were killed.
The former Pyongyang society girl says: “Kim Jong-Un threatens war because he feels cornered and has no escape.
“He is frightened his regime will end and he has nowhere to go.
“I had to escape but he knows he cannot do that so he feels he has to look strong.
“Everybody in Pyongyang openly supports Kim Jong-Un because they would be killed if they didn’t. Even his inner-circle.
“You can be killed for the slightest thing like disloyalty.”
Kim’s despotic cruelty is matched by his gluttony and lust for young sex slave girls.
Sighing, she says: “I was brought up told he was like a god – that he was as a young boy an expert sailor, marksman before the age of seven, god-like.
“Then I met him at big events I found him terrifying, really scary, nothing god-like about him.
“Officials came to our schools and picked out teenage girls to work at one of his “hundreds” of homes around Pyongyang.
“They take the prettiest and ensure they have straight, good legs.
“They learn to serve him food like caviar and extremely rare delicacies. They are also taught how to massage him and they become sex slaves.
“Yes, they have to sleep with him and they cannot make a mistake or object because they could very easily simply disappear.
Asked what happens if they get pregnant she says: “Maybe the same.”
When Kim, who has three children with his wife Ri Sol-ju, has finished with the girls they are discarded but they can marry a high-ranking official.
She described one of Kim’s exquisite bolt-holes as a “small palace” with swimming pools, beautiful gardens and fountains – a far cry from the shacks many of his subjects live in.
Her father Colonel Lim died five years ago from an alcohol-related illness but his rank had given them a privileged life, living in a three bedroom state home and having a military car and driver .
But such is the corruption and poverty in North Korea that it has seeped into Pyongyang as Colonel Lim earned a mere 30p a-month.
He supplemented his meagre wages with huge bribes.
Westerners allowed into Pyongyang see shopping malls full of copied iPhones, TVs and other luxuries, smiling people shopping and an apparently comfortable lifestyle.
Her testimony about her father’s shockingly low salary contradicts what western reporters are told about average earnings in North Korea being a “few dollars-a-month.”
It is a sham as the North Korean economy is dire and 50,000 slaves exported a-year to Russia, China and even Qatar, their wages fed into the fake DPRK communist system.
North Korea is even thought to be embedded in drugs making and trafficking, exporting amphetamines via China and throughout Asia and Eastern Europe- and weapons to Iran.
Hee Yeon says: “At times of high tension in North Korea, when a missile is fired or a test, every adult has to sleep in military uniform in case of a big battle.
“My father slept in his uniform every night, as required by law. He earned next to nothing but he received bribes all of the time because of his position.
“He never talked about military matters. Just one wrong word even to a member of his family and you could be killed. The military is everything there.”
Ironically she then reveals how even Kim’s female soldier parades are a sham – like so much of the regime’s insane posturing.
Aged 19 Hee Yeon, was ordered out of class to appear in one of the regime’s military parades- forced to stop studying for six months and put through gruelling drills for 12 hours a-day.
This was all for one event at the Pyongyang Stadium during the 2010 October 10 celebrations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Party Foundation Day.
The female parades are acted out by girl students and she was one of the thousands who put on the impressive synchronised marching performance before a clapping regime.
She smiles as she says: “It was exhausting but I am glad we did so much training.
“We could not make the slightest mistake in the routine or we’d be severely punished.”
Asked about the abject poverty of North Korea she said: “I never saw it – not until I was leaving and did that journey to China. It was never discussed in Pyongyang.”
Matter-of factly she reveals the breath-taking indulgence of Kim’s greed as his people suffer from occasional famine but year-round food shortages, many forced to eat grass or bark.
She says one of Kim’s favourite foods is “Bird’s Nest Soup” – an extremely rare imported Chinese delicacy made from the saliva of Asian swiftlet birds that can cost £2,000 a-kilo.
The soup, first consumed during the Ming delicacy, is thought to help a healthier and longer life but needs to be consumed daily for consumers to benefit.
Hee Yeon adds: “One of my friends went to work at one of his hundreds of homes in Pyongyang and she told me this was what he liked.
“I heard he also enjoyed Caviar and other delicacies, all apparently imported.”
Kim and his regime also import luxury Whiskies and Champagne, whilst cheap imitations are on sale in shops in Pyongyang for ordinary middle classes.
After Colonel Lim died Hee Yeon’s grandmother, who lives in Japan, plotted the family’s escape.
Now she, her mother and younger brother are safely in Seoul, only recently being released from three month’s detention by South Korean authorities intelligence.
Ironically it is North Korea’s “bribe economy” that helped her escape as Kim’s soldiers are so poor they have to accept money from escapees.
After secretly contacting a “smuggler” the family plotted their escape, Hee Yeon travelling first in a van driven by one of North Korea’s many people traffickers.
From China she was smuggled into Laos and on to South Korea.
At a cost of almost £5,000 she was driven for 20 hours to China and recalls: “I was collected secretly. That drive through North Korea from Pyongyang was terrifying. I thought I could be stopped at any time.
“The driver was handing out bribes all of the way to China to security guards.
“I have never felt so happy as I felt when I got out.”
‘South need nukes back to halt Jong-un attacks’
Military experts in South Korea want the US to return tactical nuclear weapons as a defence against Kim Jong-un and his missile programme.
Retired Major General Yong Suk Lee, a member of the Korean Veterans Association, told us: “This is the most serious situation between North and South Korea since the 1950 war, and that is because of the nuclear threat from North Korea.
“Previously we did not recognise North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons, but now we, the United Nations and all allied nations believe Pyongyang has nuclear weapons.”
Around 100 battlefield nuclear missiles were removed from South Korea in 1991 under the George W Bush administration.
But Lee said: “North Korea wants to make the entire Korea Peninsular unified under communist rule.
“To achieve it he needs nuclear weapons to gain leverage, to make Washington negotiate. We, the KVA, want the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.”