HANOI, Vietnam — A tearful North Korean defector shouted "Please, let me go back home!" as a black limousine carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un passed by her in Hanoi on Tuesday.
Shin Eun Ha is one of two North Korean defectors who flew to Vietnam to wish for progress during a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump this week. They joined a crowd gathered near a Hanoi hotel where Kim is staying.
Shin said she hopes the summit will help achieve peace so she can return to her hometown of Musan, which she fled in 2003.
"For defectors, North Korea isn't a country of hatred but a place that we are desperate to go back to even in our dreams," Shin told The Associated Press. "I hope to see a day when we can go back to North Korea by taking a train like Kim Jong Un used to come here."
Later Tuesday, when Kim's limousine left his hotel, escorted by motorcycle outriders, Shin cried and shouted repeatedly, "Please, let me go home."
"I don't understand why we should live while missing our hometown," Shin said.
She and her fellow defector came as part of a popular South Korean TV program featuring North Korean defectors. Shin, a 30-year-old nurse in Seoul, has been a regular guest on the program, titled "Now On My Way to Meet You."
About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War to avoid political oppression and economic hardship. Shin said she left the North with her parents, who feared heavy punishment after they were caught making money from missionaries by passing out cassette tapes containing religious sermons and hymns to fellow North Koreans.
When Shin left, Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, was North Korea's leader, the second in a dynastic line that started with Kim Il Sung, his father and the country's founder.
Shin said both Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung were "god-like figures" and that she couldn't even dare to publicly say their names when she was in North Korea. She said Tuesday was the first time she was in the same area as a North Korean leader.
Nam Hee Seok, a popular South Korean comedian who works on the TV program, said North Korean defectors appearing on the show hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula so they can exchange letters with their relatives in the North.
He said some defectors have traveled through Vietnam on their way to South Korea.