Interview with Andy (March 20th, 2012) on his August 2011 visit (10 days long)

On a sunny afternoon, I sat down with Andy. I met Andy during my visit to London over spring break, when I was visiting my sister who works for a consulting company. Andy recently graduated from Oxford University, where he studied Politics, and he recently started working with my sister at a consulting firm based in London. When I first met him Andy struck me as a well-travelled person; the type of guy who would mention a new place he visited every time you strike up a conversation with him. But one of the most interesting places that he had been to recently included Pyongyang. For 10 days last summer (August 2011), Andy travelled to North Korea with a group of other tourists. I had actually never met anyone who had been to North Korea for pure tourism purposes. I was curious to hear about his perspective on the country, and also his experiences during the trip.   Continue reading

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In the News – S.Korean Activist Arrested in Vietnam for Helping N.Korean Refugees

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In the News – S.Korean Activist Arrested in Vietnam for Helping N.Korean Refugees

Vietnamese police have arrested a South Korean activist for helping North Korean refugees enter the South via the Southeast Asian nation.

The South Korean Consulate in Ho Chi Minh city said the 51-year-old man, identified only by his family name Yu, was detained last week along with a group of refugees from the North at a hotel in the southern city.

Yu was expelled from the country eight years ago for attempting to help about 400 North Korean refugees reach the South. The activist had reportedly also helped defectors pass through other countries, including Laos.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

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In the News – Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak on Monday urged “pro-North Korea” groups in South Korea to wake up to reality and stop blindly accepting nonsense assertions Pyongyang makes, calling their unconditional following of the communist regime “problematic.”

It was the first time Lee, who has tried to avoid ideological remarks, has openly criticized those sympathetic to North Korea by using the word, “jongbuk,” which means “blindly following the North.” Pro-Pyongyang followers are criticized as jongbuk forces in South Korea.

Lee made the criticism in his biweekly radio address, saying North Korea has made “wild assertions” denying its involvement in attacks on South Korea, including a 1983 terrorist bombing targeted at the then South Korean president in Myanmar and the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship.

“The North has repeatedly made such wild assertions, but what is more problematic are some pro-North Korea groups within our society,” Lee said. “Just as the international community is demanding the North change, those people who unconditionally support North Korea must change; they are, after all, living in the Republic of Korea that has joined the ranks of advanced countries.”

Criticism of pro-North Korean groups has risen sharply in South Korea in recent months after some lawmakers-elect of the leftist opposition Unified Progressive Party displayed strong leanings to the communist nation and reluctance to criticize the regime.

Earlier this month, Lee visited Myanmar as the first South Korean president to visit the country in 29 years since the North’s 1983 terrorist bombing ripped through a Yangon mausoleum. The attack killed 17 South Koreans, including some Cabinet ministers.

Lee visited the mausoleum during this month’s trip.

“What wrong did they do and to whom? They were the victims of the division of the country and a ruthless terrorist attack. I could not hold back my anger thinking about who took their lives. I felt all choked up,” he said in the radio address.

Lee praised Myanmar for opening up to the outside world with sweeping democratic reforms, saying he hopes the North will follow in Myanmar’s footsteps, “change its thinking, make new friends and open a new age.”

South Korea and Myanmar can become good business partners, Lee said.

“It is significant for Korea to have another big market the size of Vietnam in the region,” he said. “Our country can be assured of the abundant resources of Myanmar and actually invest in it. If our two nations consult and make thorough preparations this year, Korean businesses can make inroads in earnest, beginning next year.”

 

Original article can be found here.

Love Across Borders

Have you ever fallen in love? Not the kind where you want to be with someone every minute of the day, but the kind where you would wait for that person every minute of the day. Perhaps, people experience these feelings more often as they move farther apart chasing after dreams or journeying in search of themselves in the transnational world we inhabit. But Pham Ngoc Canh, a man from Vietnam, had fallen in love with a woman he had met when he had studied chemistry as a university student. As Mr. Canh reminisces about his sweetheart, he recalls that he first caught a glimpse of her through a laboratory door. Even in that moment, he had wished to marry her, but something beyond his control kept them from being together for thirty years.

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North Korean Defectors in the United States

Image representing face of refugees from Eritrea

Officially back on campus, I decided to get involved with Yale’s branch of THiNK, There’s Hope in North Korea, once again. Thinking back to my previous year as a volunteer for the organization, I remembered that we had been fortunate enough to hear the story of a North Korean defector now living in America. She had described how she had tried to defect from North Korea on more than one occasion. After the first attempt, she, her brother, and mother had been captured and sent to a detention center where they had been tortured. After she had one day escaped, she started a new life in the United States. Unfortunately, I do not remember enough of her story to form a narrative of her personal journey to America, whether or not she spent a lot of time in a third country or in South Korea before coming here. I only remember that she occasionally shares her experiences with others in the same way that she had for us undergraduate students. Continue reading