“Surviving North Korea: A Tale of Grit, Escape, and Faith”

Amelia Earhart
5 Min Read

Christine compares North Korea to pre-Exodus Egypt – plagued with afflictions, disease, and death. Yet, she remains hopeful that, much like Pharoah, Kim Jong Un will eventually free his people.

Christine’s nights in South Korea are often disturbed by haunting memories of bodies overrun by maggots, a stark reminder of her teenage years spent in North Korea during the ’90s. “The cessation of smoke from a neighbor’s chimney often signaled the tragic loss of an entire family,” she vividly recollects. The sight of bodies – either dead or on the brink of death – lying abandoned on streets was far too common.

In situations where bodies were too numerous to be gathered, they were left to decay in public, making for a gruesome sight. Today, as one of approximately 35,000 North Korean defectors living in South Korea, Christine strives to rebuild her life, ever haunted by her traumatic past.

During an early July trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, organized by the Songdo Jusarang Evangelical Church, Christine recounted her story to The Jerusalem Report. The church arranged the journey to bring attention to the predicaments of defectors like Christine ahead of a prayer conference for the reunification of the Korean peninsula, which will see participation from an Israeli delegation.

Standing on a hilltop overlooking miles of barbed wire and the Han River, Christine is confronted by the painful realization that her family, whom she hasn’t seen in over 15 years, is just a mere four kilometers yet a lifetime away, trapped in North Korea. Direct contact with them could mean death.

Christine was born in a northern city in North Korea, where her father was employed at a chemical weapons factory. When he was transferred to Russia, Christine’s mother was left to fend for their five children. This led to them moving in with Christine’s grandfather, a businessman dealing in communications. But his alleged involvement in Christianity resulted in the family being displaced to the mountains, where survival meant subsisting on tree bark and soup made of grass.

Christine resolved to aid her family by escaping to China in 1998, despite the risk of being sold to a sex trafficker. However, a cruel twist of fate in 2004 saw her being deceived by a broker who handed her over to the police, which led to her detainment in a North Korean prison camp. The abysmal conditions in the camp and the inhumane treatment she received hardened her towards North Korea.

Despite surviving the camp through what she believes was divine intervention, Christine was aware that life in North Korea was no longer an option. She decided to risk death by poisoning over recapture and, after a desperate prayer, successfully crossed the Duman River to China.

By October 2012, Christine had managed to escape from China to South Korea. Now a devoted Christian, she faces a life far removed from her past, but one still tainted by the knowledge of the torture and death of her brother and the uncertainty of her remaining family’s fate. Christine remains resolute, saying, “Like Pharoah, Kim Jong Un will let His people go.”

Yeonhee Shin, another defector and convert, suggests that nearly 90% of those fleeing from North Korea to China and South Korea turn to Christianity. The Christian community offers support, financial assistance, and help in resettlement. While not all remain devout, many pursue religious studies in South Korea’s seminaries, with some even becoming pastors.

South Korea, with its turbulent history of Japanese occupation, independence, and division from North Korea, has a significant Christian population, accounting for 30% of its citizens. This tale of escape, survival, and faith unfolds amidst the backdrop of ongoing tensions between North and South Korea, under the successive dictatorial rule of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

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Amelia Earhart, an accomplished news reporter, and writer, brings a flair for storytelling and sharp journalistic insight to her work. As a valued contributor to Marketresearchrecord.com, she delivers timely news and analysis on various industries. Amelia's dedication to accuracy and her adventurous spirit drive her to uncover impactful stories, leaving a lasting impression on her readers. With years of experience in journalism, she remains committed to journalistic integrity, informing and inspiring a wide audience in the dynamic world of media.
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