Joy lived a relatively quiet and unperturbed life in North Korea. She and her parents worked on a farm in the countryside, so although they were very poor, they did not experience the extreme starvation of some city dwellers. Joy’s family raised goats, bees, and foraged for mountain herbs and vegetables to sell at the market. They built their own house but lived without electricity for much of her childhood.
When Joy turned 18, her stepmother began pressuring her to get married, but she didn’t see the point. Joy knew finding a husband did not mean life would get any easier. With no hope of living a better life in North Korea, Joy decided to go to China to make money for her family. However, shortly after crossing the Tumen River, she faced a similar fate to so many North Korean women living in China and was sold into marriage. Despite considering herself “lucky” for having been sold to a “good husband,” she always sought freedom. Joy longed to live in a country where she didn’t have to be perpetually afraid of being caught and sent back to North Korea.
After learning about LiNK, Joy made the choice to escape through the 3,500 mile modern day underground railroad, in pursuit of a life she never before thought possible. Now she is safely resettled in South Korea and hopes to pursue her dreams of getting a high school diploma and working with orphans. Her message for Kim Jung Un is, “Please please, just take care of your people.”