A senior North Korean defector will travel to the United States to testify about conditions in his communist homeland. Kim Dok-hong, who served as head of the North's state trading firm before defecting to Seoul in 1997, won a lawsuit Thursday against the South Korean government, which had refused to issue him a passport.
Kim applied for a passport in July 2003 when he was invited by a U.S. think tank to speak about the human rights situation in North Korea. The government refused, citing concerns about Kim's safety during overseas trips.
The government apparently banned Kim's trip to the United States for fear that his possible campaigns against North Korea could upset the fragile inter-Korean reconciliation process.
Kim defected to the South along with Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking North Korean official ever to defect to Seoul.