While growing up in North Korea, Joo Yang would listen to foreign broadcasts on an illegal radio with her family. They listened to broadcasts from Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Far East Broadcasting Company, and South Korean news channels for 10 years while preparing to defect despite the danger of being caught and sent to a prison camp. This was just the first of her many access points to foreign media.
When the rest of her family escaped in 2007 and 2008, Joo Yang had to stay behind. “I tried to defect once in 2009 but failed, but my father sent me money, so I went to another town and bribed the officials so I could attend college and stay safe. At that time, my family smuggled a package to me from South Korea. They sent a Toshiba laptop, MP3 and MP4 players, and an electronic dictionary. All of my university friends had MP3 and MP4 players, but we could only use them in secrecy, hidden from the teachers and security officials, under our blankets at night,” she said.
Joo Yang successfully escaped in 2010. She now interns part-time at LiNK’s office in South Korea and participates on the popular South Korean television program “Now on My Way to Meet You,” which aims to bridge the gap between North and South Koreans.
Watch her video to learn more about her life, as well as how she used foreign media and what effect it had on her.