Trump Meets North Korean Defectors in White House as Travel Ban Bars Citizens of Rogue State from U.S.

President Donald Trump met with North Korean defectors at the White House on Friday in an effort to highlight human rights abuses committed by the rogue state.

"We have a very special group of people with us today. These are escapees from North Korea. There have been many of them over the last year, and there seems to be more and more. It’s a tough place to live, and people aren’t liking it. There’s great danger, great risk," Trump told reporters.  

Eight defectors––six who live in South Korea and two who reside in the U.S.––were welcomed into the Oval Office, The Washington Post reported. Among them was Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector whom Trump singled out and applauded during his State of the Union address earlier this week. Trump used Ji's story to emphasize the repressive nature of Kim Jong Un's regime.

"No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea," Trump said during his speech, also warning that Pyongyang's nuclear weapons could soon threaten "our homeland."

At the White House on Friday, a number of the visiting defectors were not willing to be seen on camera for fear of their safety. "They are petrified to be here," Trump told reporters. "It's tough stuff." 

Meanwhile, under Trump's travel ban, North Koreans are barred from entering the U.S., which essentially means he's moving to criticize the reclusive nation's human rights record while also shutting the door on those impacted by such abuses. Some took to social media Friday to point out this contradiction. 

Trump also said Friday he'd spoken with South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier in the day, stating its recent dialogue with North Korea regarding the upcoming Winter Olympics was a "good thing" 

Trump added, "It’s a very tricky situation. We’re going to find out how it goes. But we think the Olympics will go very nicely. And after that, who knows. We’ll find out. We’re going to find out pretty soon, I suspect."

North and South Korea began rekindling relations for the first time in two years in early January, which led to an agreement that will see North Korea participate in February's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is a major development in the history of the relationship between the two Koreas, who've been at odds since the Korean War (1950-1953). 

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