Just thought I'd share with you the reflections of a 16 year old North Korean refugee who was brought to South Korea from China by a Korean priest.
I started reading his account because I'm quite fascinated with accounts of life under the regime of Kim Jung Il, but it was his early experiences in South Korea that surprisingly pricked my interest the most.
By chance the Korean town he describe just happens to be where I lived last year. And it was living there and meeting people like the priest described below that led me to Sam Harris's book:
From the book: Faces Of Korea : The Foreign Experience in the Land of the Morning Calm by Richard Harris
When we decided to come to South Korea, it was a priest (Korean) we asked for help…
The reason he had helped bring me to the South in the first place was because he wanted me to follow in his steps and become a priest just like him. His goal had been to use me as a missionary in an effort to spread the gospel to other North Koreans at the time of reunification.
The priest didn’t know anything about the official government program for North Korans, and so I stayed in a country Church for one month, living essentially, in total ignorance of everything. This all took place in Geumsan, a small city that is famous for Ginseng
Actually, to be completely honest, I came to South Korea under false pretenses; I arrived here under someone else’s name on a Chinese tourist visa. When Chinese people turn 19, the government issues them with a certificate of residence that is similar to a copy of one’s family registry in Korea. In China, however there isn’t a picture attached to it, so I could forge a certificate quite easily. All I had to do was have the father call me “son” and the whole thing was done without much trouble.
I put my picture on that person’s certificate and borrowed his name. That’s part of the reason that younger people can come to the South so easily with a Chinese tourist visa, and that is why I had to leave after only being in Geumsan for one month – I had to renew my visa
The priest wanted me to switch my visa so that I would be an exchange student under his tutalge, but he found he couldn’t do that, because it turned out that Korea was having major problems with illegal Chinese migrant workers at the time.
The South Korean Government started threatening the priest I was with saying that, if I wasn’t sent back to China, he himself would be denied entry to China in the future and possibly denied entry into other countries as well. The priest got confused and didn’t know what to do, so he called the National Intelligence Service (NHS) and told them he had a North Korean with him, not a Chinese boy. After a brief investigation, I was sent to Hanawon, the government-operated center to assist North Koreans in their readjustment to Korean society…
I ended up staying at Hanwon for exactly 3 months, after which I returned to Geumsan to see the priest once again. It was in Geumsan that I went back to a regular school for the first time in years…
At that time I was learning mostly with my priest. He was of the belief that Korean society had taken a wrong turn somewhere along the road and that Koreans were no longer in tune with the ways of the Bible. As a result, I spent all of my time with the priest and was unable to get out of the countryside.
The Priest told me that I had to pray alongside the Holy Spirit every morning before going to school because he was worried I would become too taken with capitalism and its destructive culture. So, I prayed alongside the Holy Spirit everyday at dawn and every evening upon returning home from school. I didn’t even go to an arcade, an Internet café, or a singing room one single time during that period in Geumsan.
I was eventually allowed a cell phone as a means of the priest checking up on me and knowing where I was at all times.
Penny for your thoughts??