Escape from hell: Years after escaping through China by pretending to be Chinese and passing stringent tests on its history and culture, Hyeonseo helped her mother and brother to escape in an extraordinary feat of bravery New home: Hyeonseo brought her mother through China by pretending they were deaf and dumb to fool border guards.Astonishingly she succeeded only to face huge hurdles when she got them to Laos, pictured above, where they were detained by local police Public execution: Hyeonseo has described being forced to watch a public execution aged just seven when a man was being strangled. I was too young to really know what was going on but I was scared'.
'Most people in the country didn't - and might still not - know about how powerful the United States is.
They think North Korean weapons are the best in the world and they're very proud of them.
A North Korean defector who witnessed her first public execution aged just seven is convinced despot Kim Jong-Un would launch nuclear weapons against its enemies as a 'last stand'.
Hyeonseo Lee, who escaped in a daring mission through China, says the despotic leader would 'certainly' launch his deadly arsenal if he faced defeat at the hands of the US.'At the very last minute, when he finds out that he's going to lose all his power he's definitely going to use it,' she told Mail Online in a fascinating interview highlighting what life is really like inside the secretive state.'There's a slogan in North Korea which goes: 'America dies, we die, we all die together'.'He would launch missiles at South Korea, Japan and America.
It is the only image that exists from her childhood inside the world's most secretive state Freedom is not free: Hyeonseo Lee has written movingly about how her mother, pictured above with her aunt, found it difficult to adapt to life outside North Korea because of the mental imprisonment the communist regime inflicts on its people North Korea has defied UN sanctions by threatening to launch nuclear missile tests 'weekly' and warned President Donald Trump it will 'annihilate' America if it provokes them.
And this weekend Kim Jong-un paraded new ballistic rockets, tanks and his never before seen Special Forces units through the streets of Pyongyang in a show of strength against Trump, who has refused to rule out a preemptive strike should Kim reach for the nuclear button.
The prominent defector, who has written a bestselling book about her extraordinary lifestory, even continued to believe her life was normal long after her school cancelled classes and forced students to watch a public execution when she was seven-years-old.'It was the first time in my life I saw a public execution,' she said. the hangings were scarier because they were closer to the crowds. I was too young to really know what was going on but I was scared that a man was dying in front of me, being strangled under the bridge.'There's a rule that the victim's immediate family and relatives have to stand at the very front to see their family member dying in front of them.' New life: From the safety of her new home in the South Korean capital of Seoul, where she has lived for eight years, Hyeonseo says her former compatriots are tricked into believing Kim commands the most powerful military force on earth Safe at last: 'I'd see dead bodies on the street by day and nights were a black hole,' she said of her young life in North Korea.
'We always had power shortages in the country.' Pictured: Hyeonseo above with her mother Journey of desperation: In 1997, aged just 17, Hyeonseo trekked alone across the frozen Yalu River into China where she lived with distant relatives as an illegal immigrant for ten years before entering South Korea as refugee Ten times a year, she and her fellow pupils were pulled from their lessons and forced to stand in total silence among a crowd of thousands to watch someone killed for crimes they were too young to understand.
In 2009, she went back to north Korea to smuggle her mother and brother, her only remaining family members, into China.
She led them on a grueling 2,000-mile journey to Laos, Vietnam, because China, historically one of North Korea's fiercest allies, does not accept its citizens as refugees.
'The people in the crowd are sick of it [taking part in the parade].