North Korean soldiers patrol next to the border fence near the town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese border town of Dandong on February 10, 2016. Johannes Eisele/AFP/GETTY

A North Korean defector who made the treacherous escape to South Korea two years ago carried poison to take if captured. After wife and son attempted to follow him earlier this month but were captured in China, he's now begging for their release.

The man spoke to CNN anonymously in an interview published Wednesday and pleaded directly with China’s President Xi Jinping.

“My son is now four, please think of my son as you think of your grandson and take pity on him,” said the defector. “My son is only four so he probably doesn't understand what a jail is. Why is he in a cold room, what guilt does he carry to have been put in a cold jail cell? I'm angry at the world.”

The man said he left North Korea in 2015 and made an arduous trek that landed him in South Korea. He said that he carried poison to ingest in event that he was captured.

He arranged for his wife and son to follow him, but they were detained in China Nov. 4. They face being sent back to North Korea and the specter of being sentenced to labor camps for trying to escape. The man said he had spent five years in a North Korean prison and doesn't want his family to endure the treatment he faced.

“Starvation is natural, human rights abuses ... many are beaten to death by the guards. Someone would steal food because they were hungry and they would be beaten to death ... of 3,000 inmates on average, about three a day would die,” the man said of prison conditions.

Defecting from North Korea can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000 as bribes and restrictions have gotten tighter in both North Korea and China. North Korean defectors are not seen as refugees in China, but as “illegal economic migrants.” They are often returned back to North Korea, where they are singled out for persecution.

“By now, there are plenty of survivor accounts that reveal Kim Jong Un’s administration is routinely persecuting those who are forced back to North Korea after departing illegally, and subjecting them to torture, sexual violence, forced labor – and even worse,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of the Human Rights Watch said in April. “The government in Beijing should respect its obligations under the Refugee Convention by protecting ... North Koreans, and under no circumstances force them back to North Korea.”

The defector also asked President Donald Trump to intervene following his speech to the South Korean National Assembly last week.

“I've never seen someone give such a speech,” said the defector. “Although we as North Koreans have experienced the living hell first hand, I don't think we could put it into words like that.”