Freedom – even the relative freedom of China, compared to the gigantic gulag that is North Korea – is a powerful draw. Excerpt:
Charles, who was born to a Chinese father and North Korean mother in the dictator state, managed to escape five years ago by crossing a river into China in the dead of night.
He was born to a Chinese father and North Korean mother. When he was just 5 years old his father abandoned the family – returning to China.
Six years later, Charles’ mother died from starvation and he ended up living with his aunt before eventually escaping to China and reuniting with his father in 2008.
‘Life in China was so much better. I was so happy because I was living my life in freedom,’ he told SoulPancake.
‘But the happiness I felt in China was only temporary.’
Because the Chinese government does not recognise North Korean citizens as refugees – Charles was soon deported back to North Korea.
Upon his return he was brutally interrogated by officials who tried to pressgang him into admitting he had been trying to defect to South Korea.
He denied the charges and after being beaten for weeks – Charles was sent off to the North’s notorious labour camps.
‘In the labour camp I was only allowed to eat 150 kernels of corn a day,’ Charles added.
‘One morning we were marching in our rows and I saw dried vomit on the side of the road.
‘I was so hungry that I got on my hands and knees and started eating the rice from the vomit. I didn’t stop until the beating from the guards was too unbearable.’
But Charles kept an eye open for the main chance. Eventually he got away again, escaped into China, met with an American consular official and got a refugee visa to come to the United States. And I say, good for him; I suspect he will make a great American. Nobody will appreciate liberty more than someone who has been violently and cruelly denied it.
And no government is more thorough at denying basic human freedoms than North Korea.
I’m glad Charles is here in the United States. I hope he spreads the word far and wide what an overly powerful central government can do. I hope he finds great personal success here in the United States, and serves as an example of what a self-directed person can do in a free society, in spite of the most disadvantageous of all possible starts.