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In August last year, Thae Yong-ho became one of the highest-ranking officials ever to defect from North Korea.

In a wide-ranging interview in Seoul, he tells the BBC's Stephen Evans he believes leader Kim Jong-un would be prepared to attack the US with nuclear weapons, but that the regime will one day fall.

There are moments when the usually fluent English of the North Korean defector halts. His voice quivers and he pauses. His eyes grow moist.

These moments of silent emotion come when Thae Yong-ho thinks about his brother back in North Korea.

He told the BBC that he was sure that his family have been punished for his defection. This realisation both grieves him and steels him against the regime.

"I'm sure that my relatives and my brothers and sisters are either sent to remote, closed areas or to prison camps, and that really breaks my heart," he said.

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Would he even destroy a city like Los Angeles, though the retaliation would surely kill him?
"Yes, because he knows that if he loses the power then it is his last day so he may do anything, even to attack Los Angeles, because once people know that in any way you will be killed, then you will do anything. That is the human being's normal reaction".
Will Kim Jong-un die peacefully in his own bed? "No. I'm sure that Kim Jong-un's regime one day will collapse by a people's uprising."
That uprising, Mr Thae believes will be brought about by the spread of information within North Korea about the world outside.
And will Thae Yong-ho ever see his brother again? "I'm absolutely sure I will and it is my dream to walk back to my home town."

If he could imagine his brother shouting to him in anguish from prison in North Korea, what would he reply?
"That is really a question I don't like to even think about.

That is why I am very determined to do everything possible to pull down the regime to save not only my family members but also the whole North Korean people from slavery."

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Of Kim Jong-un himself, Thae Yong-ho knows little. He said the North Korean leader lives a secretive life. Nobody knows even where he resides.
But he is ruthless, according to the defector, and his ability to wreak harm should not be underestimated. Mr Thae reckons that if his very survival were threatened, he would lash out and destroy whatever he could.
Mr Kim doesn't have the means to attack the United States at the moment but he is developing the ability. The high-ranking defector said that once there was an effective nuclear arsenal, the leader would be prepared to use it.
"Kim Jong-un knows that nuclear weapons are the only guarantee for his rule. And Kim Jong-un, I think, will press the button on these dangerous weapons when he thinks that his rule and his dynasty is threatened."