Hae Jung has lost many loved ones. Her mother passed away when she was only 13 years old, and her husband, to whom she had been married for five years, also died. Three years later, her father passed away, leaving her essentially alone in a hostile country. According to Hae Jung, life became unbearably difficult after the death of her father because she had been dependent on him for everything. In hopes of finding food and a better life, she escaped to neighboring China, where she would eventually live in hiding for 14 years. During that time in China, she had been arrested twice by Chinese authorities but was fortunately able to evade repatriation on both occasions. After such incidents, she lived in total fear and anxiety of being caught and sent back, and her Chinese-born daughter, Sue, also perpetually feared for her mother’s life. Seeing the devastating effects that the reality of living in hiding had on her daughter, she decisively took action to take her daughter to South Korea. They made it safely through LiNK’s networks in the underground and arrived at LiNK’s shelter days before Sue’s 8th birthday. The staff and other refugees in the shelter threw her a surprise birthday party where she ate a birthday cake for the first time in her life.
Hae Jung’s priority in resettlement has been to help her daughter successfully acclimate to her new environment; she meets regularly with Sue’s teachers to discuss how she can help accelerate the process since Sue has yet to make friends during the two months she’s been attending school; kids make fun of her accent and ignorance to things that are so familiar to them. Hae Jung has brought cupcakes for the class at her teacher’s recommendation, but she concedes that only time will help Sue make friends.
Hae Jung is a wise mother who is making great efforts to help Sue feel safe and build confidence before pursuing her own ambitions. Rather than starting work immediately after resettling to help ease the financial strains, she has decided to temporarily live on the small government benefits until the end of the school year in order to fully devote her time and attention to caring for her daughter and ensuring a successful acclimation for Sue. And in preparation to begin working soon, Hae Jung has already enrolled in a vocational training program that will start this fall.