Habitat for Humanity is helping a family from North Korea who escaped death own their very first home.
On Tuesday volunteers came out by the dozens to put up roof rafters in what will be the family's new Citrus Park home.
Gyeong Hak Jeon was a high ranking military general in North Korea. His job involved trade with China and Russia. One day a foreign missionary gifted him a bible and a movie.
But when the government found these items, it was enough for the death penalty.
Jeon had no choice but to escape eventually gaining political asylum in the U.S. After two years, he made enough money to pay someone to rescue his wife and son from the communist regime. Today, Jeon is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Both he and his wife work at a Tampa dental lab where they earn a modest income. However, more than half of it goes toward paying the rent of their small apartment.
Through an interpreter, he told ABC Action News, his family never thought they'd one day become homeowners.
"Thank you thank you, thank you," translated the interpreter, "He wants to cry about what America has done for them because even though they are here they couldn't think about having a house."
Their home will be completed by June. The family noticeably feels strongly about paying back this country they say has given them so much. In fact, their 17-year-old son is in the ROTC and plans to join the Air Force.
Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County is accepting applications to become a new home recipient. The process opens March 15 at 12 a.m. and closes April 15 at 11:59 p.m.
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