As Valentine’s Day gets closer, we’d like to share stories from some of North Korean refugees where love overcame challenges. Some have found love despite all odds, others found love after the hardships and achieving freedom. For many refugees, love was what drove them to risk their lives and kept them going as they resettled.
Minji was left on the streets in North Korea at a very young age with no idea what her real name or birthday was. A kind man found her and made the selfless decision to risk his life to sneak her into China so a friend could take care of her. His friend nursed her back to health and the family reached out to LiNK to help Minji make the journey to South Korea. She has shown exponential growth since then, thanks to the care of many compassionate people. Now in South Korea, Minji is thriving in a loving environment with her new foster parents and siblings who celebrate the progress she makes every day.
Escaping not just a stepmother but also the day-to-day hardships, Jin Kyung crossed the Tumen River into China where she was sold immediately for no more than 10,000 North Korean won and 2 packs of cigarettes. Later, she was sold a second time, but fortunately, to a kind, loving Chinese man and mother-in-law who helped coordinate her escape to South Korea. After resettlement, she eventually reunited with the man, who is now her husband. When Jin Kyung graduated from alternative school last year, her husband and baby boy came to celebrate the occasion. It warms Jin Kyung’s heart to see the support of her husband in her career and their happy son.
Despite only a brief encounter with him at a retreat for North Koreans in the U.S., Jung Hee’s husband diligently and sincerely pursued her afterwards. Jung Hee found that she can depend on him during difficult times and he showed his affections after every text. She pretended to be bothered, while looking forward to his daily messages. Fearing he would lose her when he heard that her friends were arranging dates for her, he immediately booked a flight to see her and married her within a month with everyone’s approval. For the couple, to be able to say “I love you” every morning and night is a blessing. Jung Hee believes that every person differs in the way they express their love, but being considerate and taking the first step to love will return that love tenfold.