North Korean Defector Shares Happiness After Voting For the First Time in America

Joseph Kim

A North Korean defector recently shared his elation after voting in a U.S. election for the first time ever. 

Joseph Kim, who moved to the U.S. as a refugee in 2007, cast his very first vote during Super Tuesday in Dallas.

“I voted for the first time and I don’t have the right words to describe … my feelings,” Kim said, proudly bearing the “I Voted” sticker. “But I know that there are people who are fighting to create these rights for people to vote, and to freely elect their leaders.”

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Kim, who says he is “happy to experience” the moment, acknowledged that the privilege to vote “comes with heavy responsibilities.”

In North Korea, people submit a pre-filled ballot with a single candidate during the mandatory elections.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power was similarly happy for Kim and sent him a congratulatory message on Twitter.

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“Thank you for becoming American after fleeing North Korea, and thank you today for reminding us of the right and privilege of voting. We must fight voter suppression at every turn,” Power wrote.

Growing up in North Korea, Kim’s family was so impoverished that his father died from starvation.

Kim, who now works as an assistant for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, was defected from North Korea, his birth country, to China back in 2006.

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There, he was assisted by the non-governmental organization Liberty in North Korea to become a refugee in the U.S.

Once he was rooted in the U.S., he pursued his education, eventually graduating with a degree in political science from Bard College.

Kim narrated his incredible story through this TED talk in 2013:

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Feature Image via TheBushCenter

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