Reigniting the Drive





On October 15th, I was privileged with the opportunity to see a play that surrounded a storyline of the daily struggles that North Koreans refugees face living in South Korea. Basically, the storyline was 3 interconnected stories of individuals breaking the stereotypes that ingulf North Koreans while growing their personal relationship with the North Korean refugee that surrounds them. and changing their perspectives. It was absolutely wonderful, each and every actor did a sublime job, and there were four actors who were refugees themselves.

Poster for the play itself. It is called 자강도의 추억 (Reminiscences of Chagang-do.) Chagang-do is a province in the northern part of North Korea
The set.
A photo with the cast and my exchange student group that came along to watch the play together.

Ever since my first involvement with the issues that surround North Korean refugees, I knew that I wanted to work with resettlement assistance. However, lately I have been playing around with the idea of pursuing a degree in international law, and helping refugees with legal services etc. Its a very heavy dream, and because of its many difficulties, I find myself trailing of the path that leads me to it quite often. However, experiences just like this really remind me and put me back on track. After the show, we were able to have dinner with the cast, and we sat with one woman who had been living in South Korea for quite some time. Her stories were implausible to any bystander. Her name was 이순실 Lee Sun Shil, and was apart of the North Korean army for a long period time, however, once she was discharges, she and many others who were also discharged found themselves homeless. For survival, she tried to escape North Korea 6 times and failed and she had shared about the consequences she faced and the happenings when jail cells.

A photo of 이순실 (Lee Sun Shil) when she was in the North Korean army.

It was unreal when she showed the scars that were from hot water being poured on her flesh, and as well the indented skin from getting whipped. One of the most memorable moments from the conversation was that she rather die in China, defecting, than in North Korea. She was an immensely strong individual who I will never forget. Her story reminded me and brought back that fire within me to want to work with refugees. I hope after this experience, I will be able to find some volunteering or an internship that will allow me to work with North Korean refugees and resettlement.