Min Sung told us that the hardest part about escaping from North Korea was to leave his family. As he talked about how much he loved them, he sobbed. Upon arriving into China he couldn’t eat for days because of the guilt he felt and how much he missed his family. However, the need for food pushed him to escape. His neighbor across the street died of hunger and he also witnessed a public execution in his town just a day before he left. Min Sung couldn’t tell his parents about his plans to leave, because he knew they’d try to stop him. The situation in the North had gotten so bad that some of his friends who went to the army returned home because they weren’t getting enough food. He escaped North Korea and fled into China. This is when we met up with him successfully rescuing him. He is now safely resettled in South Korea where he has been reunited with his uncle.
UPDATE: July 2013
Min Sung has grown and matured a lot after resettling in South Korea. He’s worked hard to support himself and his family while being fully committed to learning English. When he’s not attending classes, he’s usually studying with his tutor. He used to work six days a week, go to classes three days a week, and meet with his tutor a couple times a week but he recently quit his job to focus solely on English in preparation for his upcoming study abroad trip to the U.S. He was selected as one of two North Koreans to study English and meet with career mentors in the U.S. for five months this fall. He looks most forward to trying different types of cuisines and living with an American family.
UPDATE: February 7, 2014
Min Sung is back in South Korea after studying English in the U.S. for a semester through LiNK’s Study Abroad & Career Development (SACD) program! Min Sung used to think he was a bad conversationalist and didn’t like talking to people. Now, he feels that he can articulate his thoughts better and is more comfortable talking (even to strangers). When describing his experience, he said, “Before I went to the U.S., I was pessimistic and plagued with the thinking that I couldn’t turn my ambitions into reality, but now I’m more optimistic and confident that I will accomplish my goals and do the things I aspire to do.”
UPDATE: February 28, 2014
UPDATE: March 14, 2014
Min Sung recently played basketball with Jihyun, one of LiNK’s resettlement coordinators. Min Sung used to play basketball with his school team when he was a teenager in North Korea, but hasn’t played much since he left. He’s hoping to join an intramural basketball team at his university soon so he can play more often.