The Blame and Sympathy Towards Christian
Han Yeong Sook blamed her grandfather, who believed in Christ, ending up being deported from Pyongyang. At that time, they were in panic so remarkably that she could not ask what happened to their family to her parents. Her family has been living, acting as it had never happened. Also, she used to blame, misunderstand about Christians; however, she now understands them as herself is now Cristian.
Cristian, fear, blaming, understanding, the difference between North and South Korea
So we moved to Yang gang-do due to what happened in Pyongyang. When I first read the Bible, I was curious about why that person looks over this book besides my head. Now, opening the Bible in China, I thought
‘Ah-it was the Bible I was reading at that time and that must be why he first searched for the book when he came in.’
Until we arrived in China, until many of us fled from North Korea, my father was still alive. My mom had passed by, but he was alive. I fled to China, however, without telling him; I needed to move secretly. So I couldn’t ask him why he was arrested at then. He also didn’t seem to have the courage to tell me about the traumatic event that happened in the past. We have lived as we had never suffered such a thing.
Going back through my past, it was my only grudge that I could not live inside Pyongyang. Thus, to me, my grandfather was my foe.
‘If my grandfather stayed calm, I would graduate from school in Pyongyang, and my future would be quite fine. At least, I would never go to such a country. I really can’t understand why my stupid grandfather got bewitched on something strange; put his name up, thinking that there is a better place than Pyongyang.’
Moreover, in my thoughts, death is inevitable when we get caught up. This stupid pastor’s son, however, why did he choose such a foolish proposal?
‘It must have been a fraud that he had been fooled on. A smart one would never do such a thing. And why did he gather hundreds to do such foolish thing-not doing it only himself? Are those people who also gathered stupid like him?’
I could not find the answers to my questions. Myself now having religion and believing in Christ, and I am now also one of the fools.
Yes, I finally found my answers. (Laughs)
The problem I found while being in South Korea is both North and South Koreans can’t estimate correctly about the difference in development- between North and South Korea. How can I, and how should I explain this to them. I believe this is the biggest problem.
Getting used to Living in a Difficult Situation after Being Deported
Han Yeong Sook and her family were deported on June 1st, 1968. They settled in a place after a few days, but they didn’t have a proper house. They lived in a room inside other’s house, with a prefabricated kitchen. It was winter in 1968 when we moved our house, my grandfather lost his laughter and words in shock, and my dad lost his excellent working place in Pyongyang and starting working at the backwoods.
Deportation, Samsoo Gapsan(=a challenging situation, rough mountains), guilty conscience, aphasia, wood labor, dead trees
Our grandfather came along with us when we moved to rugged mountains. When I now recall about my grandfather, what breaks my heart is that he would feel guilty that he messed up the bright future of his grandson, granddaughters. My dad, who was good at calculations, used to work as a manager of the most massive warehouse in Pyongyang station-which is a wonderful working place. My brother graduated from Pyongyang Medical College and was assigned to an excellent institution. What about me? My brother would tell me that I should be a translator, studying the language. My grandfather spoiled this all.
Leaving Pyongyang on June 1st, it took almost 24 hours to get to the mountains. At the second day, we then moved about 250 kilometers into the countryside. It’s so secluded that there is no electricity. So we turned on a faint light and made linoleum with wood skin and reeds.
Yes, we moved on, and there were only six houses in that village. Of course, there’s no house left. It was June, but the mugwort was almost as tall as my height. Someone lend us a room and a dressing room-no kitchen. It’s smaller than the half of this room-half of this room is quite an ample space. So, it is full of six family members (grandfather, father, mother, me, two brothers). We had no kitchen, and we couldn’t bring in our baggage.
We, however, had to live-we needed at least a stove to cook food. My father then went out and cut down the tall mugwort, made it into large bundles. He put it in front of the dress room door and weaved the mugwort like straw thatch. We lived with a kitchen made up of mug wort.
We had a little, prefabricated kitchen low on the floor which had a small pot and an old basket hanged on. Our family lived in a house made with mugwort, and my mom cooked food in that kitchen made in mugwort. I was 18-19 years at that time- I don’t know if I was just a girl or if I was only too romantic- and to me, living in that mugwort house seemed like a playing house. I don’t mean it felt happy, but well, it was pretty strange.
So, it became autumn. June, July, August, September, October… and now the mugwort was all dry, and they flew away only leaving the frame. That winter, one family had moved out, so we moved into that house. What breaks my heart is, I needed to console my grandfather, but he lost his words. How could he face his family? Why would he put his name in that at that time? He became speechless and said nothing. He only sat still, eat meals but lost all his words and his laughter.
My father, who used to be the manager in a large warehouse in Pyongyang, would go out for work carrying his lunch box every morning, at 6 am. It is freezing in December of North Korea. There is, however, no vacation in North Korea. You must work 365 days except for national holidays-if you are sick; you should get medical certificates. It is dark at 6 in the morning we can’t see what’s outside. Moreover, the snow is also way up to the waist; the winds are fierce. But my father went to work, well there is no way to take rests, only with boots and his lunch box, he walked for 7 kilometers.
He worked at the wood mountains. He cut down trees, cut out the branches, and dragged the log for about 7 kilometers to the headrace near our village. Then, we built a raft with those logs. That’s what we, my father, did in the forests. And when we came back after doing that work all day, it is 9: 30 pm. We don’t have dinner until that time-how can we have a meal without our father? So my mother, my brothers, and I used to go out to greet our father.
When he comes back home, he won't come back in empty hands. He would get wood to use as firewood until the summer of next year. Well, it’s a village in the rugged mountains, so everywhere-including the hills- is snow. In the mountains, there is a tree which is dry and dead, called Gangdae. You arrange it roughly and tie up a string; you can drive it, just like a sled. A person comes down swish- and we would think,
‘That’s someone’s father.’
“Why doesn’t our father come?”
My mother will answer
“Well, he will come after that.”
(Laughs) How would I ever imagine? I would tell you these old stories here?
Yes, my father lived like that. My grandfather would have felt enormous guilty, causing my father to lose his excellent job. Grandfather lost his words. If I meet him in heaven, I will console him. When I recall it now, well, he was right at then.
I fled to China, and someone gave me the Bible, telling me,
“It’s better for someone like you to just believe in this; you don’t have a place to have your heart set, so just believe in this.”
I didn’t know what book it was at first. North Koreans-we don’t know if there is such book called the Bible, if Jesus is the son of god, what a cross is. But he gave me the book. So, I read through it. I found that the sayings which grandfather used to tell were all in this book. Ah…Then I found the answer; grandfather wrote his name on this, and we moved to the secluded village since we were Cristian and we were oppressed. But, my grandfather was truly right. Yes, he was.
Therefore, I received god faster than anyone else, I do better than anyone in the church. I felt guilty-inside my mind- to my grandfather. My grandfather was really a better person than any other person. It was only bad circumstances at that time.
The Story of Meeting and Getting Married to her husband
Han Yeong Sook met her seven years older husband in a professional school after being deported to Yang gang-do and had a love marriage. She says that thanks to her husband who understand her anxious feelings (she had nothing at that time, leaving back the luxury Pyongyang life) and comforted her, she could regain inner peace. On the other hand, most of the marriages in North Korea are usually made by matchmaking inside a village.
Arranged marriage, love marriage, professional school, husband, consolation, calm
We dated together, my husband and me. In North Korea, most marriages are made by matchmaking. After that, many are made inside town since it is not free in North Korea to go traveling or move. There are few cases of getting married over villages through relatives’ sources. But usually, marriages are made inside the community.
I went to Yang Gang-do, and there is nothing for me to do in that town. We go to the woods and cut down trees, but I can’t do anything. When six families, including mine, were forced to deport from Pyongyang, there was a woman in the same age as me, called Jeong 00. Others would view us, who do nothing, knowing nothing, pitiful. There was a professional school-called Imok professional school, is Huchang, Yang gang-do. They sent me there, and I studied for about a year in that school.
It was at the school that I met my husband. At that time, I was young, and my husband was seven years older than me. I, however, became dependent on him. We, at that time, knew nothing about feelings; intelligence, morality-no one in North Korea understands this; we only know about eating.
Recalling, I first fell to him, and second, I became dependent. Being forced to leave Pyongyang, I had no place to settle my heart. Well, at that time, I even couldn’t notice that I had nowhere to calm my mind, and now I see it was true. I was just deported from Pyongyang; I lost everything that I used to enjoy. Would I have friends? Would I found a place to settle? Maybe that’s why I earned peace in my mind from my husband.
He used to read some books and seemed to understand entirely about a person’s feelings. He comforted me a lot, and naturally, we became a family. (laughs)
North Korea’s Hopeless Financial Difficulties
Han Yeong Sook explains that North Korea’s economic hardships are unable to overcome. North Korean people, she tells, do not work harder because they know that even though they work harder, they wouldn’t receive their properties. She also hopes that innocent North Korean people could be free and happier, as the reality of a desperate crisis in the North Korean economy and food shortages become known over the world. She appeals that people stand by the suffering North Koreans and give concern and empathy to them.
The financial crisis, food shortage, distribution, unity
The household was better when we lived in Pyongyang. It is, however, not because we ‘live in’ Pyongyang, but because my father had a fine job-we got a lot of effect on our father. Our father had quite a power, so we lived on what he brought us. In North Korea, everyone, whether you’re a professor, a daily worker, is applied to the distribution system. 700g a day (300g for children), you can’t get out this limit. There is no way to earn food except this. Thus, there is nothing like who earns more or less-everyone earns the same.
Also, farmers don’t live better in North Korea. If you earn more when working harder, one will naturally work harder. But in North Korea, receiving as much as your work is not ensured. Even though you work hard and harvest a lot, you would only receive maximum hundred kilograms. So, people would think there is no need for them to work harder-they cannot be awarded for their hard labor. That’s why North Korea’s economy regresses.
Now people in South Korea, however, would criticize the bread-winners. There’s quite a lot of conflict between the haves and the have-nots. But this is also just because we are all human. Let’s say that I and Lee gun hee (the president of Samsung) live in equal condition-it’s just nonsense! That nonsense situation is what is just happening in North Korea! Everyone is equivalent in North Korea; whether you’re a professor or a businessman, you receive the same payment, 700g of distribution. No one envies others; no one can do more nor buy more. It seems so clear why North Korea has been making no progress after all.
It is inevitable for North Korea to treat every single person equal. Why? If people get a bit more full, keep their composure, they would think about something else. So, in order to block that thought, North Korea made this fearful law, and the -work a day to live a day- system; one day of leisure would cut off your portion of distribution and put you up on stage of ideological conflicts, people will come to your home to search for you. North Korea is a nation where people can never daydream.
I sometimes can’t understand left-wingers in South Korea. Well, let’s presume that their thoughts are real. Their idea that it is no good of arousing North is partly correct. However, saying as if Kim Jong-il was right; that having nuclear weapons are an advantage for our people, is never able to empathize with.
When I was at China, Kim Dae-Jung said he is taking something for ‘the Sunshine Policy.’ My heart fell-it was shocking.
‘Ah-South, Korea knows nothing. Korea is now going rotten. I thought Kim would propel a policy that would soon lead to the collapse of the North Korean regime, but he is now allying with North!’
If I had wings, I would go to Kim and say,
“This is going wrong. Why are we doing this?”
We should never feel any misery for that nation (North Korea).
Right now, that tragedy that happened in the Southern sea, even though it is not concluded yet, who would be the mastermind-well no one but North Korea. I cried alone, this morning, watching that newspaper article. Of course, I understand how sad it is to hear that innocent people in North Korea die. Who would, however, undertake responsibility for the deaths of young men? Those young men must have been the son of parents-and, how would the parents feel? Yesterday, I met with the family of a survivor. Tears blocked my view.
“Thank you, and thank god for living till now.”
I cried alone this morning, reading an article. So, while having a meal with my professor, we talked,
“I understand the death of my husband, the pain of North Korean people. Well, North Korea is also my home country. But I can never understand why they murder these innocent young men of another nation. They must tell me the devil, witches.”
I discussed the same thing, this morning, too. North Korea is going wrong.
Living in South Korea, at first, honestly, I was worried.
‘South Korea is actually, not that far from North Korea. What if Kim Jong-il pushes down into the South? Shouldn’t I move overseas?’
But as time passed by, I could find that still, conservative and progressive groups (parties) are alive here in South. At least it is never a nation where few left-wingers own all power and tyrannize all national policies. So, now, I feel more stable and safe than before.
I wonder why innocent Koreans should go over these heart-breaking-events. I don’t know. There will one day, however, come a better day.
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