Jung-Hee resorted to picking plants in the mountains in North Korea after the police shut her down for selling goods. Finding it unbearably difficult to survive, she escaped to China “without the help of anyone, in hopes that things would get better.”
Though she found shelter, Jung-Hee lived in constant fear of being captured until she learned of an opportunity to escape.
“When I was in China, my heart was never at ease. I got a call that we would be leaving the next morning. I did not have time to get permission from the people I lived with. Once I left [for Southeast Asia], I was very scared. I wasn’t sure if I had come to the wrong place. But when I met two other refugees at the end of the journey, I felt I finally made it and I was alive!”
Jung-Hee was brought into LiNK’s Southeast Asia shelter, and and is now resettled in the United States.
“After coming [to the shelter], everyone treated us as if we were their own family and I cannot express how thankful I am.”
Jung-Hee dreams of studying diligently to earn enough money to bring her parents out of North Korea.
“My parents are still living a really difficult life back home. Yet, I’ve started a new life and hope we can one day live happily together.”
Since her arrival in the United States in November 2010, not only has Jung Hee adjusted well to her new life in the U.S., but she’s also been busy living out her dreams.
UPDATE: May 2013!
In January 2012, she married a wonderful man with whom she had a healthy baby boy the following September. Jung Hee met her husband at a conference, where they fell for each other’s kind and sincere personalities. Her husband pursued a relationship with her diligently, even moving to a different state to be with her. Her seven-month-old son is a bright and clever boy, who smiles often and is already able to say “mom” and “dad.” To Jung Hee, having a son is equal to gaining riches.
In late 2012, she reunited with a family member, another defector whom LiNK has rescued and helped resettle safely in the United States. The last time Jung Hee had seen her was ten years ago in North Korea. When they finally reunited last year, Jung Hee was overcome with emotion to the point of tears. Her relative now lives with Jung Hee and her family and helps to take care of her son!
Over the years, Jung Hee has continued to work very hard as a cook with skills that she had acquired while living in China. Together with her husband, she was able to save enough money to purchase a 3000 sq-ft combination convenience store and deli last March and has become a successful business owner, helping with daily operations and managing employees. She decided to open up her own store because she wanted to be more independent and did not want to work under someone for the rest of her life. Though it was not an easy decision to make, she could not give up on her dreams due to fear of failure. Jung Hee and her husband decided to take the chance to open up their own business when the first opportunity came along and are excited and happy that they did.