North Korean Defector-Turned-Powerlifter Reveals His Journey From Malnutrition To Monster Gains

Hundreds of individuals from North Korea’s repressive regime have been fortunate enough to escape the fences and warn the world of the dangers and evils of the North Korean government. As tensions between Western powers and North Korea’s strongman Kim Jong Un continue to rise, hundreds of defectors from the world’s most secretive nation band up under the protection of more democratic countries, denouncing the cruel and oppressive society governed by the North Korean juche system.

While being able to escape the country is an exceptional feat in itself, one particular man stands out from the crowd and deserves a special shout out. When Jake, a North Korean man, escaped the country with his sister in 2005 for Canada, he was near death and on the brink of starvation, weighing at just 42 kilograms (90 pounds). Today, he weighs around 85 kilos (188 pounds) and is poised to become a very promising athlete in the sports of powerlifting.


Jake visited Reddit’s AMA last Saturday to talk about his life in North Korea and his inspiring journey from malnutrition to monster gains. Visiting the popular Q and A forum on behalf of the non-profit JAYU, or the the North Korean Human Rights Film Festival, which he described as an organization that “provides a platform to engage patrons in a global human rights discussion through the arts,” Jake answered pertinent questions regarding his life experiences. He also provided a couple of photos to prove his identity to Reddit’s AMA mods, but had to blur out his face for security reasons.

Here are some of the most interesting questions Jake answered on his AMA.

Redditor two off asked, “What was the most shocking thing for you after you escaped? What were your preconceptions of the outside world? Were there any repercussions to your family you left behind?”

Jake says, “My biggest cultural shock… It was the first time to see very diverse people. I mean many different appearances like white, aboriginal people, black people etc. Also people were so much kinder that I thought.”

Killersalad wrote, “I’m going to ask a strange question. Is there anything you miss about North Korea? Despite how terrible the country is there anything at all that you miss?”

Jake answered, “Of course my childhood friends and my hometown. Also my relatives. My friends are most likely serving their mandatory 10 year military service so I don’t know If I could even see them now.”

EwotAbbasmoi asked, “What, did they tell you about the outside world and what convinced you to escape?”

Jake says, “It wasn’t some romantic reason like searching for freedom. I was hungry, and I missed my mom. This is what I feel most people don’t understand about North Korean defectors. Most are just hungry, and escape looking for food. Nothing is worse than that feeling of starvation.”

Oreesma turned the attention towards Jake’s impressive physique and asked, “What kind of regimen did you start with? What was your weight at moment?”

Jake shared an awesome powerlifter tip, “Eat a lot, lift as heavy as I can. When I escaped I weight 42kgs (93 lbs) and at the moment weigh 85 kilos (188 lbs). I workout because I always feel small. I wanted to look big. It’s also a big stress relief for me.”

Read the rest of the AMA here.

[Images from Reddit/Imgur]