Bo Ram left North Korea at the age of 18 because she believed she would be treated like a human being in neighboring China. What she didn’t know at the time is that she would be sold to a much older Chinese man and have two children with him. She had planned on making a new life for herself by working hard and saving up money in China, but nothing went as planned.
In North Korea, Bo Ram was sent to a gymnastics school when she was eight years old. Students were made to do vigorous exercise in spite of the lack of proper nutrition or care for injuries they received while training. Bo Ram was already on a strict diet but was further prohibited from drinking water so that she could control her weight. Five years later, she ran away in protest of the poor treatment and abuse she had grudgingly endured.
Life wasn’t much better at home. She helped her family sell Korean-style taffy and coal, but they barely maintained a semblance of a dignified life. There was, however, some relief once her father purchased shoe repair equipment and brought in additional income. They were finally able to eat rice instead of always having to eat porridge. Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived. Her mother passed away a few years later and she eventually had to work for her aunt at a small drinking establishment.
After learning from a former classmate that escape to China was possible, she decided to risk her life and left North Korea. During the first year in China, she constantly tried to escape from the man who had purchased her but was unable to because his relatives lived throughout their village. After failed attempts to escape, working until her body felt broken, being accused of infidelity, and one near arrest, she finally decided that she needed to leave China and make a life for herself in South Korea.
After connecting with LiNK, Bo Ram was able to successfully leave China and is now resettled in South Korea. She plans on learning as much as she possible about her new home country and acquiring special skills so she can pass them on to her children in China. She also has a long-term goal to have her mother’s remains moved from its current location to where her father is now living, so that when he passes away, they can be buried side by side.