For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 28, 2006
President Meets with North Korean Defectors and Family Members of Japanese Abducted by North Korea
The Oval Office
11:39 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I have just had one of the most moving meetings since I've been the President here in the Oval Office. I met with a mom and a brother who long to be reunited with her daughter and his sister. They're apart because the North Korean government abducted the child when she was a teenager. And all the mom wants is to be reunited with her daughter.
It is hard to believe that a country would foster abduction. It's hard for Americans to imagine that a leader of any country would encourage the abduction of a young child. It's a heartless country that would separate loved ones, and yet that's exactly what happened to this mom as a result of the actions of North Korea. If North Korea expects to be respected in the world, that county must respect human rights and human dignity and must allow this mother to hug her child again.
I talked to a family, a young North Korean family that escaped the clutches of tyranny in order to live in freedom. This young couple was about to have a child, and the mom was five months pregnant when they crossed the river to get into China. They wandered in China, wondering whether or not their child could grow up and have a decent life. They were deeply concerned about the future of their child. Any mother and father would be concerned about their child.
They had to wander because they did not want to have their child grow up in a society that was brutal, a society that did not respect the human condition. By the grace of God they found save haven, their child was born, and now safely sits here in the Oval Office.
I talked to a courageous man who escaped from North Korea. He was in the North Korean military. He saw first hand the brutal nature of the regime, and he couldn't -- his heart could no longer take it. He followed his conscience and escaped. He speaks for thousands who have escaped North Korea and thousands who live inside the country; he speaks eloquently about the need for their freedom, for them to be treated decently.
The world requires courage to confront people who do not respect human rights, and it has been my honor to welcome into the Oval Office people of enormous courage: a mom, a mother and dad of a young child, a former soldier, a brother. And so I welcome you here. We're proud you're here. I assure you that the United States of America strongly respects human rights. We strongly will work for freedom, so that the people of North Korea can raise their children in a world that's free and hopeful, and so that moms will never again have to worry about an abducted daughter.
May God bless you all, and thanks for coming.
END 11:44 A.M. EDT