Jong Hyuk left North Korea with his family to find a better life, but he never planned on it being permanent. He had friends and extended family that he didn’t want to leave behind, but after living near the border area for a year, he was arrested by the Chinese police. What followed was something that no person should ever experience. He was tortured and beaten by the Chinese authorities and then forcibly sent back to North Korea. The North Korean authorities wanted to know why he escaped and made him write his statement from memory several times. If one word was off, he would be beaten. Over the next several months, he was subjected to forced labor and began to waste away, losing over 40 pounds. Yet, somehow, he never gave up the desire to survive and see the outside world again.
He was eventually released and escaped North Korea for the second time soon after. Living in China once more, he knew he could never return to North Korea because of his arrest and time in prison. This was difficult for him to come to terms with, but he decided that it would be best for him to escape with his immediate family to South Korea so that they could all live together once more.
Now successfully resettled in South Korea, Jong Hyuk has been working toward getting into university, something that would have been unthinkable for him in North Korea. When he first started studying in South Korea, he struggled with the different education system and was so discouraged that he ended up quitting his studies and started working instead. However, after working for a while, he realized that he wanted to explore different career options by going to university and he is currently studying hard for the GED. Because he thinks English is the subject he struggles with the most, he is participating in our English Teaching & Cultural Exchange (ETCE) Program. He enjoys studying with his tutor, Josiah from the U.S, who is now attending a university in Seoul as an exchange student.