Ji Young’s life story is heartbreaking, and it all started when she was a young girl. In 1996 when she was about 10 years old, she had to forage for plants that she could boil and eat. It was a constant experiment since some of the plants were not edible. During the most difficult years, she remembers seeing dead bodies on the street. Needless to say, they didn’t get proper burials.
The government only paid her 10% of what she was supposed to earn working at a coal mine, so she stole coal and sold it in the black market, but she still wasn’t able to make enough money to buy food. She then reluctantly resorted to stealing food, but this still couldn’t satisfy her hunger. One day, a lady gave her food, which she gladly received since she hadn’t eaten in two days. She told Ji Young about opportunities in China for her to make money, and right away she was convinced that she needed to leave North Korea in order to survive!
Ji Young set out for China with high hopes of working and making money only to learn soon after arriving that the woman who had given her food had arranged for her to be sold. She was handed off to brokers who threatened to kill her if she didn’t agree to being sold into marriage. She tearfully agreed and was sold to a Chinese man for an unknown amount and eventually had a child with him. She was caught while working one day and subsequently repatriated to North Korea, but she successfully escaped and returned to China so that she could work and send her daughter to school.
Ji Young always longed for freedom. After several attempts to go to South Korea, she lost hope, but the long-awaited opportunity finally came when a fellow North Korean connected her to LiNK’s network. Even though Ji Young was not in the best of health, she decided that it would be now or never. Thankfully, she made it safely to Southeast Asia and is beginning her processing so that she can continue on to South Korea. She feels like this is all a dream, but she’s happy that she will finally be able to experience true freedom.
Thank you to Hugo and Julia Marx for supplying the funds for Ji Young’s rescue. Your efforts have changed her life and have provided the opportunity for her to enjoy this new LIBERTY.