The question was always: where to find food? Ms. Kim had been the youngest child in her family, with 2 older brothers, born in Hyorung, Hamkungbookdo in early 1980. After her mother had died, and her father was starving and near death, Ms. Kim had gradually taken every possible thing from the house that she could sell, to trade for food for her father. She tried this day after day, but because this was the 1990’s and the Great Famine, there was often no food and no one to trade.
It is so painful: the day that she actually was able to trade for 2 bread rolls, she ran back to her home - only to find her father passed away with foam at his mouth.
We don’t know what happened to her 2 older brothers when the father died. What is it like to live on the streets, with your body aching from hunger all the time? What is it like to remember how your father was dead, as you came home with a small victory in gaining food for him?
Death surrounded Ms. Kim in her life on the streets.
And so, Ms. Kim knew that if she did not steal food, she would be one of those dead bodies piled up.
Finally she decided that even risking slavery in China was better than all this. She crossed the Tuman River in 2003. The deepest fear of any refugee is being “repatriated”, that is: caught and returned forcibly to North Korea, to face not only the horrors of that country, but also the evil prison and punishment system that equals the Nazi regime of World War 2 Germany, in it’s unspeakable torture and hatred for prisoners.
in 2007, Ms. Kim suffered this “repatriation”. Now, she was experiencing a life of cruelty and terror even beyond the life of a street orphan or a slave in China. She lived 3 years in prison, watching the torture, beatings, mind control, and execution of people all around her, by guards who did not seem to have any human response to the suffering they caused.
She doesn’t tell us how she escaped, but she did return to China in 2011, trying to survive. Anything was better than going back to North Korea, where the government dictatorship lived in wealth and ease, and the people had no hope!
Ms. Kim tries to express the horror she feels about North Korea - her hatred of the country - and that just thinking about it gives her “goose bumps” on her skin. She desires to feel an emotion that she has never really felt: happiness. Happiness that results from having a place to sleep where she is not brutally attacked; happiness that results from waking up without expecting death and torture. Happiness that results from taking a breath without fear.
NAUH is committed to giving Ms. Kim a chance at this happiness. This is only possible with merciful contributions from readers like you.