His grandparents held highly respected positions under Kim Il-Sung's rule.
But all of that changed when their critiques of the dynastic regime sentenced two generations of the Kang family to concentration camps.
Kang Cheol-hwan, who was only a child when he was sentenced to hard labor in the Yodok concentration camp, known as "Camp 15."
In a speech he made in South Africa, the now-defector from North Korea recounted stories of torture and horrible conditions.
“Most never survived the experience as they were forced to sit for extended periods in cold muddy water. If they survived, their flesh was literally rotten,” he said.
Read the full story here