Jihyun Park gives moving talk to an audience in Salisbury
Jihyun’s story is one that is difficult for British people to comprehend. She has endured privation both in China and in her home country of North Korea. She escaped from North Korea and spent six years in China effectively as a slave. She has been trafficked and forced into marriage. Eventually she was arrested and sent back to North Korea and was confined to a Labour Camp where she endured the severest of treatment. She escaped a second time via Mongolia and now lives in Manchester where she has been reunited with her son.
Part of her harrowing story was how she managed to regain contact with her young son on the phone while she was still in North Korea. He had been told she had deserted him and would not speak to her. It took several calls before meaningful contact could be resumed.
On Thursday 16 March, Jihyun came down to Salisbury and spoke to an audience at the Five Rivers Leisure Centre in the city. Over 50 attended and were immensely moved by her experiences. The evening started with a short film called The Other Interview (which can be viewed by following this link) followed by questions. The moderator was Amnesty regional representative Kenny Latunde-Dada who came down from Cambridge for the event. The audience asked many questions about both her experiences and life in North Korea.
There was some discussion about the role of China in both Jihyun’s story and more generally. North Korea is a sensitive issue for China and they are concerned about such an unstable country with its equally unstable leader on its doorstep. There are indications that they are tightening their policy of returning escapees to North Korea.
We were delighted to welcome Jihyun Park and were grateful for her making the trip down from Manchester to speak to us. We were also grateful to Kenny Latunde-Dada for coming down from Cambridge. Jihyun said she is writing her memoires and it should be published soon. Those interested may wish to read In Order to Live by another escapee Yeonmi Park published by Penguin (2015).
North Korea Video made by the Salisbury group