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Mrs Park is standing as the Conservative Party’s candidate in Bury Council’s Moorside electoral ward in the Greater Manchester town where she has lived since 2008. She explained: “I am really confident because I have already fought totalitarian evils twice, because I escaped North Korea twice.
“People were really nice to us. I want to pay back this debt.
“Britain taught me what is freedom, and what is human. So that’s why I want to help.
“Last year was a very difficult year and many people lost their family members.”
The 52-year-old grew up in the mountainous North Hamgyong province of North Korea but, hungry and desperate, in 1998 Park fled with her younger brother to China where they fell into the hands of human traffickers.
They were separated and she was sold to a man whose family used her as a slave. Tragically, her brother was never seen again.
She added: “One day I wanted to give up my life but I found that I was pregnant.
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“I had changed my mind because this child was my last family member – and maybe this child would give me hope.”
She hid her pregnancy and shockingly, afraid of arrest in hospital with no ID or papers, gave birth to a boy on her own.
The pair struggled on for five years before Park was eventually captured by the Chinese authorities and sent back to North Korea without her son – something which she said caused her “unspeakable” pain.
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She was then imprisoned in a labour camp and became dangerously ill as a result of a leg injury.
She added: “The police told me that you cannot die inside the camp, you die outside. So they released me.”
Incredibly, Mrs Park summoned the strength to escape from North Korea again and returned to China to search for her son, whom she found having been badly mistreated by her former masters.
At that point, she made a firm resolution to move them to safety and met her now-husband during an attempted move to the Mongolian desert.
In 2007, four years before the accession of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, a Korean pastor in Beijing connected them with the United Nations, and the family was relocated to the UK, settling in Bury.
Mrs Park now spends her time helping other refugees from North Korea adjust to life in Britain.
However, while she is happy here and has now raised three children, she cannot forget the past – and specifically her brother.
She said: “I still don’t know whether he survived or not, but I never give up my hope.
“One day I want to be reunited with my brother.”
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