Monday, November 30, 2020

I Escaped a North Korean Prison Camp

Must read

Buying a car at an auction – six top tips

Buying a car at an auction can be daunting, so here's everything you need to know before you go, with input from two leading...

7 lessons about money you need to teach your kids

Financial master and writer, Jonathan Clements, recently took to Twitter with a simple list of lessons kids need to know about money. Though short...

5 Tips For Giving The Perfect Toast No Matter The Occasion

You're at an awards dinner. Or maybe it's a grand opening, or even a retirement party. You're asked to say a few words, but...

Announcements for Sept 7 through Sept. 13

Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP will elect the nominating committee after the presentation “Special Education and Parents Rights” during its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at...




On days I thought about death, the thought of seeing my son again was all that kept me going.

To my neighbors in the Manchester street where I live, I’m just a normal mom. I smile as I pass them on the school run each morning, my husband is out washing the car at weekends and my son can be seen most nights after school playing out in front of the house with other boys. But they have no idea of the agonizing years I spent being sex trafficked, imprisoned and tortured before I made it to Britain to beg for asylum.

I was born in Chongjin, in the closed dictatorship of North Korea, where I was cut off from the rest of the world and brainwashed from birth to obey the state. Like all citizens, I went through school believing that North Korea was the greatest country on earth and knew nothing about the atrocities carried out against its people. I excelled academically, going off to university to train as a teacher. But when I left university in 1996, my life changed. The food rations that were doled out each month by the government suddenly disappeared and the country was gripped by famine. We were told that the West was to blame, because it had imposed economic sanctions on our country, but it was actually due to mismanagement of food production by the government and bad weather.

Over the course of a year, I watched as people around me became increasingly desperate. The stomachs of the children on our street were distended from starvation. We were forced to forage for whatever food we could find in forests and gardens. I remember digging up tree roots with my fingers to boil and eat. In the house next door, four children died that year.




My father, who had worked for the government as a driver, lost his job, as there was no fuel. In desperation, my mother suggested we attempt to smuggle ourselves over the border into China.

On 21 February 1998, my mother bribed the border guards to let us cross the frozen Dunman River that separates the two countries. My sick father would stay.

But when we arrived we discovered things were worse. China did not recognize us as refugees, but as illegal migrant workers. News reached us that any North Koreans caught on Chinese soil would be deported back to North Korea, where they would face a long sentence in one of our countries notorious prison camps. ‘Your daughter needs to marry a Chinese man so she can stay,’ my mother was told time and time again. ‘She’ll be looked after then.’

We had no idea that what was being suggested amounted to human trafficking or that such a marriage would never be recognized. In good faith and desperate to ensure my survival, my mother handed me over to a broker. It would prove to be a naïve and terrible mistake.

I was just 26 and spent two agonizing months with a handful of other North Korean girls being put on display in a rundown house in a small border city. None of us were allowed to speak to our families or leave. I was tired, lonely and starving.




Previous articleLock Up International
Next articleThe Community Word

More articles

Latest article

Buying a car at an auction – six top tips

Buying a car at an auction can be daunting, so here's everything you need to know before you go, with input from two leading...

7 lessons about money you need to teach your kids

Financial master and writer, Jonathan Clements, recently took to Twitter with a simple list of lessons kids need to know about money. Though short...

5 Tips For Giving The Perfect Toast No Matter The Occasion

You're at an awards dinner. Or maybe it's a grand opening, or even a retirement party. You're asked to say a few words, but...

Announcements for Sept 7 through Sept. 13

Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP will elect the nominating committee after the presentation “Special Education and Parents Rights” during its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at...

Rimini Street Once Again Sets New Premium Standard for Enterprise Software Support Service Level Commitments

  Rimini Street's ultra-responsive service model and seasoned engineers have won numerous awards for delivering excellence in customer service. Most recently, the Company was honored...