Jihyun Park's steely expression hides the scars of a past life doomed to unimaginable horrors and suffering - until she miraculously escaped North Korea a second time.
After watching loved ones starve to death in an appalling famine, she fled the murderous regime and survived being a slave bride in China - giving birth to a son - only to be captured and sent back.
Ms Park, now 52 and living in Bury, Manchester, was condemned to a notorious prison camp, where she was tortured and destined to die until a gruesome leg injury gave her another shot at freedom.
Thanks to her incredible strength and bravery, the mum escaped again on a perilous journey through the mountains, tracked down her lost son and made her way to Britain, where her life truly began as she stepped off a plane as a refugee.
Arriving at Heathrow Airport, she expected a Victorian-like scene with men in top hats and suits and women in long, flowing dresses.
Growing up brainwashed in North Korea, she knew nothing about modern Britain or the truth about the brutal dictatorship and "fake" history lessons in her homeland.
Ms Park, who was a school teacher in North Korea, has shared the incredible story of how she twice escaped the country - first to fulfil her father's dying wish and a second time to find her five-year-old son - and cheated death.
She told Mirror Online: "I saw many people die of starvation in front of me. My dad and my uncle died of starvation."
Ms Park, from the coastal city of Chongjin, first escaped in February 1998, amid a famine now known as the Arduous March or the March of Suffering, when people were dying of starvation "every day".
Her father feared they, too, would die of hunger. Her brother had been beaten for trying to leave the army.
She said: "I wanted to save my younger brother because it was my father’s last wish, so that's why we left North Korea.
"That's why we abandoned my father."
Ms Park and her brother, who had been in the military and was nine years younger, walked across the frozen Tumen River, at Onsong, into China, where they were separated when she was forced into human trafficking.
She was sold to a Chinese farmer for 5,000 yuan - equivalent to about £550 today - and became enslaved and abused by him and his family. She was told she would be sent back to North Korea if she didn't comply.
Many North Korean women who flee into China are forced into a marriage, becoming sex slaves and domestic workers while living under the constant threat of being arrested and jailed in their homeland.
Ms Park, who received an Amnesty International bravery award in February, said her brother was caught and sent back to North Korea to an unknown fate.
"I still don’t know if he survived or not," she said.
She doesn't know what happened to many of the family members she left behind.
Her mum and older sister also defected, but they disappeared.
While enslaved, Ms Park was raped and gave birth to a son she named Chol, meaning "iron". In 2004 was sent back to North Korea without him after a neighbour reported her to the police.
She said: "I went to this house and they looked at us as only workers. The man looked at us as only sex toys. It is a slavery life."
China doesn't accept North Koreans as refugees and routinely sends them back even though it could mean certain death or a hellish prison camp.
For Ms Park, it was the latter. Prisoners lived in filthy and cramped conditions with no toilets, they were forced to work all day using only their hands, and starved inmates were forced to eat rats to survive.
She said: "They never accepted us as human. We were forced to walk in mountains without shoes. It was very hard and tiring.
"They did not give us enough food or medicine. The big problem is toilets, they have got no toilets.
"We used the toilet in front of the police guards. We haven’t got any pads or sanitary products.
"When you have your period all the blood comes out through your trousers and they did not give us proper water to wash it off.
"It smells disgusting. Our bodies had lice and head lice."
Determined to see her son again, Ms Park spent six months languishing away in the prison until a serious injury to her leg gave her the opportunity to escape a second time.
Her leg was swollen and she couldn't walk. The guards looked at her and told her she was almost dead.
But they told her she couldn't die inside the prison. "You have to die outside, anywhere," she was told.
Ms Park was moved to an orphanage, where she began to recover. However, the guards regularly checked on her and told her that if her condition improved she would be sent back to the prison.
After three months, she could walk again and it was time to escape again, knowing she would probably die if she was sent back to prison.
In November 2004, she escaped again, this time with help from a North Korean broker who took her across the border.
They left Musan at around midnight, waded through the frigid Tumen River and, despite her leg injury, walked over a mountain, arriving at their destination almost 24 hours later.
Ms Park said: "I was determined to see my son again. My leg was in so much pain. It was torture."
She was destined for the same fate - being sold into human trafficking - until she saved the broker's life.
After they crossed into China together, they took a taxi to a broker's house. Ms Park convinced the driver that she was Chinese and the man with her was her husband.
Taxi drivers often work as spies and turn in North Korean defectors for a cash reward, she said.
At the broker's house, she begged to call her son. The broker tracked him down at his paternal grandmother's home - his father had abandoned him - and gave Ms Park the phone number.
Ms Park sobbed as he took the phone and asked, "Mom?"
Her North Korean broker then had a change of heart.
He told her he had two children in North Korea and, referring to the taxi ride, he said: "You saved my life and so I am going to save yours. I won't sell you. You can find your son."
Ms Park was free to leave. She found her son at his grandmother's house and was shocked by the way he was treated. His clothes were unwashed, he was never sent to school, he was neglected and he was stateless without any identification from the Chinese government.
After twice escaping North Korea, Ms Park had to find a way out of China with her son. In 2005, they crossed into Mongolia, where she met her future husband, a fellow defector, as they tried to scale a security fence at the border.
The stranger cut a hole in the fence so they could escape.
Ms Park said: "He saved me and my son’s life. That man is my husband now. It was my first time in love. I didn't know the meaning of the word love."
But after three days of roaming the desert thirsty, hungry and cold, they decided they had to return to China.
In 2007, she met a Korean-American pastor who introduced her to UN officials to become a refugee.
"It was the first time I had heard of the United Nations in my life," she said.
She was given a choice - South Korea, the US or Europe.
She added: "I knew the South Korean and American journeys were risky due to political problems.
"I wanted to save my son so that's why I chose England. We learned English history in North Korea.
"North Korea and England were not enemy countries.
"In North Korea, they never say 'United Kingdom' or 'Britain', they only say 'England'.
"I knew that it is a really romantic country because women wear a dress and men wear a hat, but when I arrived I didn't see that kind of gentlemen or lady."
Ms Park, her husband and son were granted asylum and they arrived at London's Heathrow Airport in 2008 not knowing any English.
Ms Park said: "I was shocked because there were so many different people. In North Korea it is only North Korean people, but here it is people from all over the world living together.
"And the newspapers also shocked me because the newspapers in North Korea are (all about) the dictator. Here, everyone has a voice."
They settled in Bury, where they were supported by the council and a number of agencies, learned English and found work.
The couple had two children in the UK, and Ms Park's first son is now 21 and studying accounting and finance in London.
She said: "I love this country and I love the people. Every day me and my husband say we are thankful for the United Kingdom and the people and the Government that they accepted us and gave us new opportunities and a new life."
The North Korean community in Britain largely goes under the radar. The biggest community is in New Malden in south-west London.
Ms Park and fellow defectors watched with great interest earlier this year when Kim Jong-un disappeared from public view for weeks amid speculation that he could be critically ill, dead or in hiding due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When reports suggested that he was dead, Ms Park was "happy".
Kim then resurfaced in a state news report about a visit to a fertiliser plant.
She doesn't believe North Korea's claim that it has had zero cases of coronavirus.
"North Korea is really a black hole," said Ms Park. "Nobody knows what is happening inside."
Ms Park is now a human rights activist and outreach director at Connect: North Korea. She is invited to speak at events about North Korea's human rights abuses that continue today and the North Korean people, who are overlooked in much of the reporting about the regime and its dictator.
Ms Park said: "We are also human. Think about them.
"Please remember there are 25 million people who have always lived under a dictator and they don’t know the meaning of freedom or life."