It’s being called the “photo of the night.” During his first State of the Union address, President Trump told the story of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho.
“In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea,” Trump said. “One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food, which were very hard to get.”
“In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain or the hurt. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves — permanently stunting their own growth.”
“Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China,” the president continued. “His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had — and he resolved to be free.”
Trump related how Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom, followed by his family. His father was caught attempting to escape, and was tortured to death.
“Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most — the truth,” President Trump said.
Seong-ho keeps the crutches he traveled with as a reminder of the hardships he faced. When the president turned to Seong-ho, who was in the gallery as one of the president’s guests, he stood on his new legs and held up the crutches that brought him to freedom.
— Laurel Conservative (@LoConservative) January 31, 2018
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 31, 2018
Amazing. Escapee from North Korea Ji Seong-ho defiantly, joyously waving his crutches.
"Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom."#SOTU
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) January 31, 2018
Seong-ho was a starving boy in #NorthKorea. Tried to steal coal to barter 4 food, passed/o fm hunger. Train ran over him. Siblings gave him their food, eating dirt themselves. He & family fled. Father caught & tortured to death. "Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all." pic.twitter.com/SkvazP0fRQ
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸🐲 (@kristina_wong) January 31, 2018
Listen to this story about North Korea and remember many celebrities and Democrats are praising North Korea as better than Trump's America.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) January 31, 2018
The amazing Ji Seong-ho is in the SOTU audience tonight. he lost an arm and a leg when he slipped from a train in North Korea during the famine. but he escaped and now helps other North Koreans escape. I wrote about him here: https://t.co/q5qEULrTlc pic.twitter.com/kRpjvQxAbe
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) January 31, 2018
God what a picture of him holding up those crutches. Full on crying now after that and seeing Otto's parents. North Korea is hell on Earth, and I'm thankful the POTUS called so much attention to it.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) January 31, 2018
Ji Seong-ho raising those crutches above his head is a powerful moment. #sotu
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) January 31, 2018
Here’s video of this “powerful” moment:
"Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come." Pres. Trump recognizes North Korean defector during #SOTU; Ji Seong-ho hoists crutches in first lady's gallery box as he is met with ovation https://t.co/q18EZzVe9p pic.twitter.com/fs8tfIisoK
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 31, 2018
The powerful image of a young man, lifting his crutches in defiance of a North Korean regime that once tortured him. I will never forget this moment.
God bless you, Ji Seong-ho. pic.twitter.com/DSuUz8qCvR
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 31, 2018
Not everyone was impressed, however.
Did I miss a policy statement in that long passage on North Korea or was that just the use of tragedies and human interest stories for applause? #SOTU
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 31, 2018
This section of the speech is not about North Korea's nuclear arsenal. It is about demonizing the (genuinely awful) North Korean regime, about framing them as anti-Christian, in the way presidents do when they are preparing the country for war.
This is scary.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) January 31, 2018
Leave it to the Left to find something to complain about in the inspirational story of a North Korean defector, and some might argue, the most powerful moment of the evening.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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