Hyun-Ji lost her father to a stroke when she was 5-years old.
“My father went out with a lunch box to pick mushrooms. All of a sudden he said his head hurt, so he lay down. He didn’t get up for three days and eventually passed away.”
When Hyun-Ji was 17, her mother remarried to her stepfather who was involved with a gang and gambled away the family’s money.
“My stepfather and I did not get along very well. He lost a lot of money and because of the kind of work he did, he was very strict. I was stressed out a lot and my parents fought because of me.”
With the hope of earning money to enable her mother to divorce, Hyun-Ji escaped to China. She soon discovered she could not survive in hiding and jumped on the opportunity to be rescued to LiNK’s Southeast Asia shelter and processed for resettlement in South Korea.
“We left [China] at midnight. I was so nervous and the grandmother and grandfather [traveling with us] were so exhausted that they lay down on the ground. They also had a hard time keeping up in the mountains. We didn’t know what to do. After 36 hours, we finally made it to Southeast Asia. I am so grateful for your help and it’s hard to express my thanks. Thank you very, very much.”
On the boat ride to Southeast Asia, Hyun-Ji began to plan for her new life in South Korea.
“When I was back home in North Korea, I wanted to do this and that, but the economy was so tough that it was difficult just to buy clothes to wear. Now my dream is to go to school, study singing and do anything related to music.”