Perhaps a few generations ago most Western societies looked upon North Korea with fear and trepidation, having been raised in a time that identified North Korea as a threat during the Cold War. However, now it seems that the image of fear has been replaced with one that revolves around a fascination with devastation and morbidity. The recent popularity of novels written by Western authors about North Korea, such as Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the Westand Brandon W. Jones’s All Woman and Springtime, reveals the growth of the West’s captivation with the tales of the dark lives that the people of North Korea lead. The recent surge of new information coming from novels, which give the West a look into the enigmatic and mysterious self-enclosed world that is North Korea, may not necessarily be written with the intention of shocking and disturbing readers. But many seem to be written with the implication that they are exposing the ugly side of North Korean politics and society. Continue reading
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
Last year I had first joined Yale University’s branch of THiNK, There’s Hope in North Korea, the group that I had addressed in my previous article. Thinking back to the year I joined, one of my first experiences as a member of THiNK was watching the documentary Seoul Train produced by Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth. I knew that it left a strong impression on me as well as a bit of bitterness toward China, but rather than work from memory, I think that it is a better idea to take another look at the film itself. Continue reading
Just before heading back to the United States, I took a detour to London for three weeks to meet family and friends. Among my friends who are currently studying in London, one of them is currently enrolled at the school of economics in Regent University. It had been two years since I had last seen her; however, unfortunately, I had arrived in London while she was still in the middle of her dissertation and finals. I decided to stay over for a couple of nights and spend some time at her university so that I could be with her for a few days before I left for America.
Regent University – sits quietly in the middle of Regent Park – no sign announces its presence. My friend tells me that everyone knows it hides in the middle of the trees abreast the lakes of Regent Park. I did not know anything about the university or its students, but I could tell as soon as I walked passed the front gates and into its halls that the students were not from average families. There was a scent about them that suggested the elite. Continue reading