As I interacted with the North Korean students in my group at EUC, an image of a broken heart in chains came into my mind; I knew that the cheery, playful persona these boys adopted was a facade to hide whatever they have experienced. To mask all the pain and hurt.
I only found out on the last day that one of the boys was jailed twice as he, together with the other North Korean defectors, were detained in a jail cell in Thailand. And right in front of his eyes, he witnessed people dying from starvation and diseases due to the lack of food and poor hygiene.
The other boy grew up in an orphange in China till he was thirteen years old. You would have thought that after he escaped to China with his mother that he would be ‘safe’. This was not the case.
He had to witness his mom being wrenched away from him right before his very eyes by the Chinese authorities, to be handed to the North Korean guards. No surprise why till this day he says he hates North Koreans. Who was he to blame that he grew up as an orphan?
So much hurt and resentment.
North Korea and South Korea should never have been separated.
So many innocent victims, caught in this complex entanglement of pride, ideology and politics.