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"I Was a Broker" (30)
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2016-01-26 12:20:33
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 "I Was a Broker" (30)


RYU Sang-Joon

North Korean defector and activist 

Entered South Korea in 2000



The unexpected happened to me when all had been prepared. Su-Nam and Sun-Ok had been arrested by the police at a shelter in Weihai and their testimony included details of me and the man who was working with me on providing aid for the center. The Shandong Chinese Public Security and Jilin Chinese Public Security arrested the couple responsible. I was able to bail them out in a few days but he could no longer work with me. It was near impossible to find a trustworthy man and thus, I couldn’t provide aid for the 9.11 center for which I had worked so hard for. When I lived in North Korea, there were many children who couldn’t go to school because they had nothing to eat. Some couldn’t even eat grass porridge and they would come out to the streets to pick up lumps of coal and use it to warm their houses. The children had hit rock bottom long ago and they subsisted on weed from the mountains and scraps of food found on the market floors. Some even stole food from people eating in restaurants and would run for their lives. There were only a few students in schools and most of the windows were broken since many broke and stole the glass. Textbooks were rare and students would use old copies. Even then, there weren’t enough to be provided for all the students. As for books, they bound old newspapers together, and students used newspapers as notebooks, practicing their writing on it. It had been seven or eight years since I defected but nothing had changed. The children who defected were incredibly short and petit with dark faces. Song-Lim and Myung-Il hadn’t been properly educated and they couldn’t even write or manage basic addition and subtraction. Kim Jung-Il’s dictatorship would claim and Children were kings of the country but the reality was that they wandered the streets, sleeping in train stations and coal mines picking up hot coal tossed out from passing trains. I could never forget the deaths of children that I witnessed. I wanted to give them a piece of bread and listen to their bright laughter.


I had met many defectors while living in China, and there were a few things that I could never forget. I met a young man named Mr. Sung who told me about the time he was forcefully repatriated after being arrested by the China Public Police while living in China. From what I remember, he was sent to a prison in Musan Security Agency.  His small cell was filled with about fifty defectors and they were never given a chance to wash. The stench was unimaginable and their clothes almost white from the sheer amount of lice that covered it. Soldiers would beat and step on prisoners who lied or remained silent during investigations. A young investigator would beat a man old enough to be his grandfather in the face for turning his back on North Korea. These soldiers were worse than animals. If anyone spoke or moved in the prison, they would make the prisoners extend their hands through the prison bars and beat the extended hands with weapons. This young man had experienced such beating and he said that he had been beaten and tortured but he could never endure it when they beat their hands like that. The soldiers would consider them enemy of the state for leaving their homeland to find a small bowl of rice in China. Sometimes they would make the prisoners place their hands on their hands and make them stand up and sit down more than 500 times. Once, in January, an officer heard someone talking in the cell and demanded to know who had spoken. When no one answered, they pour several buckets of water in the cell and made all prisoners lie down and stand up several times. Their thin clothes became quickly soaked with water. They were weak and frail, and due to this inhumane behavior during the coldest month of the year, all defectors caught the flu and caught frostbite in their legs and in their hips. Their clothes only tried after a week from their body temperatures.


In winter 2002, I had heard a terrible story from a defector in South Korea. She said that when defectors were repatriated to North Korea, they faced forced abortions. She said that she witnessed North Korean soldiers kill a newborn by drowning it. When I had first heard the story, I refused to believe such monstrous acts occurring in North Korea. It had been discussed in the media but I wanted hard evidence and tried to find proof of forced abortions. In November 2004, the shelter in Yangi had Young-Ok, Hyaung-Mi and her sibling, and Hae-Sun from a village in Wangqing Daehonhkou. Hae-Sun had been forcefully repatriated and managed to barely escape to China once more. She was desperately looking for someone to help her get to South Korea and that was why I helped her get to the Shelter. Since I was busy, I could only drop by the shelter once in a while. During my visit I asked her if forced abortion really occurred in North Korea. Hae-Sun was old and she frowned as she confirmed it. I told her that I honestly didn’t believe such thing occurring in North Korea. In response, she confessed her experiences in prison. She lived near Wangqing in summer 2003, farming, when the Chinese Public Police broke into her house in dawn. They arrested her and sent her back to North Korea. Her cell in North Korea was tiny, filled with over 40 defectors. There was barely any room to sit.  One day, an officer came to their cell and asked if anyone had given birth before. He pointed to Hae-Sun and ordered her to work as a midwife.  She had previous experience as a midwife while living in North Korea and came out of the cell without a word. The officer told her that someone was having a baby right now and order her to put the newborn face down, since she had experience with pregnancy. She knew what putting the baby face down meant and she hesitated. The guard told her that it was necessary as he glared at her. There was no separate location for giving birth. Instead, they laid out a piece of straw mat near the entrance to a cell filled with tens of defectors. A young woman laid on it and was thrashing around in pain. As Hae-Sun sat in front of the pregnant woman, her heart pounded at what she was order to do to the newborn. If she placed the baby face down, she would be a murderer. If she didn’t then she feared what the guards would do to her. When the baby finally came, it was already dead. Perhaps the newborn thought it was better to go its own way rather than face a bitter death filled with mental and physical pain. As Hae-Sun told the story she said that she didn’t know what to do in such a gruesome situation. Sometime after the incident, she was able to escape to South Korea. She was now living in Kwang-ju. I heard from many defectors that when women were forcefully repatriated, they were checked for pregnancy. When these women gave birth to a baby created in China, the babies were placed face down or wet paper would be placed on these newborns’ faces. They were murdered on purpose. One defector told me that sometimes the child doesn't die for three days, after having placed faced down. In such cases, they shook the child upside down by its leg causing the newborn to perish right away. In North Korea, they do not recognize that forced abortions and murdering innocent newborns is a criminal act. These monstrous acts are carried out legally.  They don’t respect nor recognize the value of life. These acts of murder occurring across North Korea legally shows just how wretched and miserable the short lives of repatriated defectors are. These ghastly acts of murder supersede any inhumane acts found in history. It is one that not even beasts would allow. Those that grew fat with the sweat and the blood of their people are cockroaches of human history, and Kim Jung-Il’s dictatorship needs to fall as soon as possible. I hope that one day people in North Korea could learn to the right to value and respect their lives and that all could live in equality and peace.