After a long hard day of trying to sell a few fish and industrial products, Ms. Lim typically came home to her alcoholic husband. The country was already excruciatingly poor, and what little money they had was disappearing with her husband’s drinking. And then the beatings and brutality began, when she begged him to stop drinking.
Ms. Lim’s life consisted of desperately working for small amounts of food, and living with a brutal husband. And then, when the Great Famine destroyed the country, even that hope of selling fish was impossible.
Where did all the animals in the country go? They were eaten, of course. There are many reports of the disappearance of all animals, even birds, during the country; the sound of birdsong completely disappeared.
Now, no one had food to sell, or money to buy other products, either.
Ms. Lim had been born late 1960s, in Hamhung, Hamkyungnamdo. Even her difficult childhood, with the malnutrition that is typical of the population, could not prepare her for the frightening famine.
Finally, the beatings and starvation erased every hope she had. She tells us that she left North Korea, with not even a bit of emotion left for the country. Ms. Lim had done all she could to help her husband, and to even stay alive herself. . . she crossed the Tuman River in the fall of 2010.
What was it like during the few days when she did not face the terror of being beaten? But human traffickers caught and sold her to another violent person.
The person who bought her also beat her with a thick stick. The apparent reason beating was that she didn’t “work hard enough”, and had “no understanding of the society” that she had escaped to.
Ms. Lim understood more than she was given credit for. She understood that she was working as hard as she possibly could, and also that the beatings were absolutely WRONG and inhumane. Her anger built, as she was bruised, hated, and terrorized. One day she could take the beatings no more.
She ran away from home that day, and then a new chapter began in China; Somehow she was able to find a job in small diners, and she gave all her strength to her work at these kinds of places, so that she could survive. However, life as an illegal person of no legal status meant that she was very much in danger of repatriation. As a North Korean woman in China, there would never be real rest or real safety for Ms. Lim.
We don’t know how she learned about NAUH, but when she found us, she said: “I am not born to be beaten”. We at NAUH believe that she was born to be loved and respected. Because of generous contributors, and readers like you, Ms. Lim has a chance of waking up to a morning without brutality, and a hope of a future of dignity.