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First political party of N.K. defectors launched

All Headlines 17:47 March 06, 2020

SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korean defectors launched a political party in South Korea for the first time Friday, vowing to work toward "liberating" people in their homeland from autocratic rule and promoting the rights of defectors.

"Although we are few in number I feel that we have great potential ... just two months ago I, myself, was skeptical as to whether or not we would be able to launch the party but a miracle happened today thanks to everyone here," Thae Yong-ho, a former No. 2 diplomat at North Korea's Embassy in London, said in his congratulatory speech at the ceremony to launch the Inter-Korean Unification Party.

The launch came after about 200 defectors formed a preparatory committee last month.

Thae, who defected to South Korea in 2016, joined what is now the main opposition United Future Party last month and announced his bid to run in the April 15 parliamentary elections, vowing to work for inter-Korean unification if elected.

"The number of defectors in South Korea is only few but the fact that a defector is running for parliament means that we have been accepted by society," he said.

"The ultimate goal of our party is the liberation of North Koreans, and the reason for launching the party is to protect the rights of defectors," according to the party's manifesto.

Forming a political party in South Korea requires more than 1,000 party members in five cities or provinces, according to the Political Parties Act. Organizers said they have fulfilled the requirement from Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, South Gyeongsang and North Jeolla provinces during the period of Feb. 6 to March 1.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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