My experience as a Ministry of Unification Overseas Correspondent has given me so many opportunities to explore the various issues surrounding the reunification issue, but more valuably chances to get to know people serving in all areas within this cause.
Even six months after the DMZ tour and the rest of the volunteer activities, the late night conversations I had with my North Korean and South Korean teammates still resonate. I had advocated for North Korean human rights on my campus with my student organization for years, but when I shared a beer with a North Korean defector woman ten years my senior did I realize that I was rooting for a better future for people like her. There were faces, names, and personalities to the distant “North Koreans” I was praying for now.
In addition to the personal blessings, I received many opportunities to practice not only my writing but also administrative skills as an Overseas Correspondent. My passion for North Korea grew from being a simple desire to raise awareness for the issue to a lifestyle where I constantly watch out for developments in the Korean peninsula. If it had not been for the MOU program, I would not have had a reason to start an internship program at Wellesley. This process has equipped me with skills that will surely enable me in the future to be more effective advocate for North Korean human rights. I am so proud to be a part of a program that will bring future American, South Korean, and North Korean defector students together where they can dialogue about misconceptions and relate to each other.
My original intent for traveling to South Korea last summer was to try and equip some defectors with phonics and English vocabulary. Through some unexpected change of events, I flew back home with a deeper understanding of the North Korean humanitarian dilemma and a more empathetic heart toward the assimilation problems that defectors face in South Korea. I also felt as though I was part of a community and I owe that largely to the kindness of the MOU Korean Correspondents (상생기자단). Though the time that the Overseas and Korean correspondents spent together was short, so much heart was poured in to getting to know each other. The Korean correspondents have taken steps beyond what was necessary to welcome us to South Korea and inspired us to be more knowledgeable about the issue. I have no doubt that they will be future leaders in South Korea and I hope that we can work together in the future again.
Thank you for helping us create the Overseas Correspondents program and for your continued patience. Thank you for calling us friends.