South Korean President Park Geun-Hye issued an appeal to North Koreans on Saturday, urging them to defect from their country to the "bosom of freedom" in South Korea. The message was addressed to both ordinary North Koreans as well as more elite members of North Korean society.
The message empathized with the plight of North Koreans, and said that they too deserve the basic human rights they are denied in their home countries. Park also said that "the road [is] open" for anyone who seeks to begin a new life in South Korea.
"We are well aware of the gruesome realities you face," said Park during a speech marking the country's Armed Forces Day.
"The universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights and welfare are the precious rights you should also enjoy," she added.
"We will keep the road open for you to find hope and live a new life. Please come to the bosom of freedom in the South whenever you want."
About 30,000 North Koreans have successfully defected to South Korea, although these numbers have slowed since Kim Jong-Un rose to power five years ago.
Recently, a picture of South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-Ju and North Korean gymnast Hong Un-Jong taking a selfie together at the Rio Olympics went viral and the two were praised for their sportsmanship.