Contributor Post Created with Sketch. North Korean Defector Most Powerful Moment of Perhaps Any SOTU

 

Last night President Trump appeared downright presidential. While there is plenty of partisan bickering that can (and is) being done regarding the policy proposals and political points raised, the stories of individual guests of the First Family were some of the most powerful in recent memory.

There was a couple — a police officer and his wife — who adopted a heroin-addicted baby born to a woman the officer met on a patrol. When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

Next came President Trump’s focus on the evils of the North Korean regime. Directly behind the Holet family, a couple who had just brought a child into their home, were Fred and Cindy Warmbier, parents mourning the loss of theirs. Their son Otto was a young man killed by North Korean authorities after he was held captive after he tried to exit the country at the end of a group trip he took there.

The Warmbiers, likely as naive as their son when he left for North Korea, spent 17 months in agony; wondering how their son was, if he was even alive. Then came word he would be coming home but the news quickly turned agonizing. He wouldn’t be flying on a commercial flight home but on a medical plane. He arrived in the United States in a coma, before dying six days later.

They were interviewed about their son on CNN about what the North Koreans did to their son:

After his return it was reported: “The parents of Otto Warmbier, a young man who was detained in North Korea for more than a year and died soon after being released, said on Tuesday he was “jerking violently,” howling and “staring blankly” when he returned home on a medical flight.”

The juxtaposition between two parents sobbing after their son was brutally tortured by the regime and a happy, smiling adoptive family with their newborn was jarring. But then, came the kicker: The story of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho. President Trump told his story, in what was perhaps the most powerful moment in a State of the Union in memory:

The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield profiled Ji Seong-ho’s powerful escape story. And just look at this photo:

With Rebecca Holet looking on smiling with her baby, the Warmbier parents sobbing, and Ji Seong-ho, defiantly holding up his crutches, which transported him across China and Southeast Asia into freedom.

There are thousands of others like Ji Seong-ho; mothers and their babies, children, men, women, and the elderly. For the last several years, I have been fundraising for an organization that helps these individuals, who have managed to escape North Korea over the North Korean-Chinese border, to freedom in South Korea, where they automatically receive citizenship. Liberty in North Korea ushers these brave souls from China, through Southeast Asia; a 10,000-mile journey because the route over the DMZ is impossible. This past year alone, mostly on Twitter, I raised over $60,000, and this summer I will be writing (and blogging!) a trip to South Korea to meet some of the refugees LiNK has managed to ferry to freedom over the years.

President Trump should be applauded, loudly, for bringing the plight of these refugees into the hearts and minds of the American people.

There are 19 comments.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel: these individuals, who have managed to escape North Korea over the North Korean border, to freedom in South Korea, where they automatically receive citizenship.

    These are the kind of people I’d grant an immediate path to US citizenship to, not those who cross our border illegally. If they don’t want citizenship, then I’d grant sanctuary, until a time came when they could safely return to their native land.

    • #1
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:01 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Gary Robbins Reagan

    What a wonderful thing you are doing. Thank you. I hope that the people in North Korea hear of your efforts.

    • #2
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:03 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. George Townsend Inactive

    Bethany Mandel: PresAds of the American people.

    • #3
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:04 PM PST
    • Like
  4. George Townsend Inactive

    Bethany Mandel: President Trump should be applauded, loudly, for bringing the plight of these refugees into the hearts and minds of the American people.

    As a Trump skeptic, I just have two things to say:

    1. The President did a magnificent thing last night, by bringing those stories to the American People.
    2. Adam’s story brings to us, in a clear and concise manner, the kind of evil with which our country is forced to deal. And I really do believe that Donald Trump is dealing with these in a rational and necessary way. Bless him for that.

    Thank you, Bethany, for a good Post.

    • #4
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:11 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany Mandel: When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

    Why?

    • #5
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:20 PM PST
    • Like
  6. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    Stad (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: these individuals, who have managed to escape North Korea over the North Korean border, to freedom in South Korea, where they automatically receive citizenship.

    These are the kind of people I’d grant an immediate path to US citizenship to, not those who cross our border illegally. If they don’t want citizenship, then I’d grant sanctuary, until a time came when they could safely return to their native land.

    they can ask for asylum in the U.S. if they want it; they were never included in this refugee ban when you get into the fine print because of that; but the vast majority want to settle in SK because the transition is so much easier. it’s already incredibly hard to adjust to the free world, adding in the language and culture on top is a lot for refugees to handle.

    • #6
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:25 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    What a wonderful thing you are doing. Thank you. I hope that the people in North Korea hear of your efforts.

    I went to their gala in LA this year and met several refugees and heard from one that they’ve told family still in NK about a Jewish white woman raising money for LiNK. It’s incredible.

    And thank you!!

    • #7
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:27 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

    Why?

    Why what?

    • #8
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:28 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

    Why?

    Why what?

    Why was it necessary to remove the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored.

    • #9
    • January 31, 2018, at 2:33 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. JoelB Member

    When the time came to be recognized, Mrs. Holets removed the covering because she assumed, rightly I believe, that people wanted to see the child.

    • #10
    • January 31, 2018, at 4:24 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. I Walton Member

    JoelB (View Comment):
    When the time came to be recognized, Mrs. Holets removed the covering because she assumed, rightly I believe, that people wanted to see the child.

    good lord of course.

    • #11
    • January 31, 2018, at 4:54 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany Mandel: President Trump should be applauded, loudly, for bringing the plight of these refugees into the hearts and minds of the American people.

    Bethany,

    The scale of the abuse is really astounding. A variety of presumably neutral Human Rights organizations have documented the mercilessness of the regime. These abuses are way past just referring to N Korea as an “illiberal” government. This is on the scale of a government committing genocide against its own people.

    Thanks for your post.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #12
    • January 31, 2018, at 6:40 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

    Why?

    Why what?

    Why was it necessary to remove the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored.

    Why does it matter?

    • #13
    • February 1, 2018, at 5:39 AM PST
    • Like
  14. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

    Why?

    Why what?

    Why was it necessary to remove the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored.

    Why does it matter?

    Don’t women usually remain “covered” when nursing an infant in public? I believe they used to.

    • #14
    • February 1, 2018, at 6:05 AM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Eridemus Coolidge

    @basilfawlty

    Er, babies can be interrupted; they don’t hang on like bear traps and blankies are more for helping the baby to be less distracted, especially if no flesh got flashed. But unless my insight into this is, er, fawlty….if this is an adopted child not added to the family right after a natural unrelated pregnancy, she would have been bottle feeding it. Someone correct me if women can be wet nurses just any old time. And whether or not she had such a rare endowment, she might not want the moment to spotlight herself or the feeding event rather than the whole family unit and husband’s contribution. The after event questioning would have surely been “why did she keep the baby covered?”

    By the way – tangentially – did anybody else notice that comments on Melania’s clothes were why did she wear “suffragette white” to the speech, but if she had worn black it would have of course been signaling solidarity with the Me Too movement? Just like she copied Jackie Kennedy with the powder blue inaguration ceremony suit. That Melania, foiling PDT at every fashion turn.

    • #15
    • February 1, 2018, at 6:41 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Eridemus (View Comment):
    Er, babies can be interrupted; they don’t hang on like bear traps and blankies are more for helping the baby to be less distracted. But unless my insight into this is, er, fawlty….if this is an adopted child not added to the family right after a natural unrelated pregnancy, she would have been bottle feeding it. Someone correct me if women can be wet nurses just any old time. And whether or not she had such a rare endowment, she might not want the moment to spotlight herself or the feeding event rather than the whole family unit and husband’s contribution. The after event questioning would have surely been “why did she keep the baby covered?”

    So no breast was exposed to the millions during the SOTU? I certainly hope you’re correct. Once I learned that Justice Ginsburg would not be attending, I lost all interest in watching the event myself.

    • #16
    • February 1, 2018, at 7:02 AM PST
    • Like
  17. Kay of MT Member

    Eridemus (View Comment):
    Someone correct me if women can be wet nurses just any old time.

    Do a little research. She has had 4 children and probably nursed them, the milk glands can be stimulated to function. Takes a little doing, but if a woman really wants to nurse, she can. Also, we don’t know when she stopped nursing her last child and as far as we know, she may be nursing two of them. Both my daughters nursed their babies between 1 and 2 years for each child. Seven children between the two of them.

    • #17
    • February 1, 2018, at 8:14 AM PST
    • Like
  18. Stad Thatcher

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: When President Trump introduced the family, the adoptive mother, Rebecca Holets, removed the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored by those present in the gallery.

    Why?

    Why what?

    Why was it necessary to remove the cover she was using to nurse the baby in order to be honored.

    Why does it matter?

    Don’t women usually remain “covered” when nursing an infant in public? I believe they used to.

    Look, I don’t even know why it was mentioned in the article. Maybe it means something to women who’ve nursed. I don’t know. The only thing I’ve ever nursed is a beer bottle . . .

    • #18
    • February 1, 2018, at 8:22 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Eridemus Coolidge

    @stad

    I tried to google around for something to go on, but couldn’t find anything better than an image in this article (half way down below husband with baby closeup) with the lady semi-facing camera, and which just doesn’t look like a helpfully engineered top of dress. So the mystery will continue and I will bow out:

    http://people.com/human-interest/police-officer-who-adopted-homeless-addicts-baby-says-birth-mother-is-now-40-days-sober/

    • #19
    • February 1, 2018, at 9:55 AM PST
    • Like

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