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"I Was a Broker" (14)
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2016-01-26 11:32:20
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 "I Was a Broker" (14)


RYU Sang-Joon

North Korean defector and activist 

Entered South Korea in 2000



As I lived as a laborer I tried my hardest to continue my volunteer work with Baekdu-Halla Association. Yet, I was determined to resolve the problem with passport problem with refugees. At the time, I had been out of the county twice, and the related organizations asked me why I kept creating passport problems despite the fact that I had a proper passport. There were thousands of refugees who couldn’t get a passport and were unable to see their family in China. They could do nothing but watch and hear from afar when their family members were taken prisoner by the Chinese government and when some were forcefully repatriated to North Korea. It was a problem that needed to be solved quickly and the thought of refugee’s human rights being violated in this free land greatly upset me. If the defectors got together with determination, any problem could be solved. However, it appeared to me that they were all just laying back as if they were expecting someone else to resolve their problems. 


In South Korea freedom was an empty promise, disappointment and resentment made me want to do something, but there wasn’t much I could do. During the time, I had finished several stages of job training at Seoul Jeongsu Campus of Korea Polytechnic I, and received several certificates. The reason I underwent job training was that I wanted to find a job in China and help out defectors in any way I could. A few people from X organization offered their help but they were unable to be issued passports and I wanted to proactively help the refugees in China. As a result, I ended up rejecting their offer. I could live comfortably if I received their help but to me it seemed like chains holding me down. I want to live my life in the way I wanted to. I wanted to work with the problem of getting passports for the defectors. I wanted to bring my son’s body back to South Korea and he had been young when he dreamt of coming to this land of freedom with his father but I still wanted to let him sleep quietly. I never forgot about them and when living became difficult and hard I motivated myself with the thought of brining Chulmin to South Korea. It was time. I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as other government departments and told them of the situation and begged them to intervene. They responded that they were not officially South Korean citizens and that they could not help them. Was this truly our government and our Ministry of Foreign affairs? With such thoughts if felt like my world was crashing down around me.


I visited the Mongolian Embassy in Seoul, Han-Nam Dong and met up with Beu Lak-Ba consul to tell him of my situation. I asked for his help in establishing cooperative relations with the Mongolian government and the refugees. I gave him a letter addressed to the Mongolian National President and the prime minister. The letter is as follows:




Dear Mr. President,


Hello, I am Ryu Sang-Jun, a North Korean refugee who successfully made a difficult journey to South Korea. In North Korea, I was faced with extreme starvation and lost my wife and my youngest son in that barren land. On April 1998, I escaped from North Korea with my eldest son, Yu Chul-Min. We lived in China, yet in order to escape the strict scrutiny of the Chinese government, I left my son at a stranger’s house and tried to find work. Fortunately, I met a missionary who helped me get to South Korea on December 15th, 2000. I was in South Korea, but my mind could never be at peace with the thought of my young son, alone in China, plaguing my days and nights. I tried to bring him to South Korea but in the end that proved impossible. Chul-min was in a party attempting to get to South Korea through Mongolia yet on his way there they lost their ways and wandered with extreme hunger and exhaustion plaguing their every step. My son died with exhaustion taking over his young frame.  Young Chul-min never got a chance to smile, having been faced with hunger from his birth. He lived in a state of terror and unrest in China, and died before he could face freedom. He never had a chance to spread out his dreams and hopes and the thought of my son’s body, buried carelessly in a Mongolian desert tortures me hourly. I feel responsible for his death and I hope that one day I could bring his body to South Korea to let sleep peacefully in the land of freedom that he dreamed about.


Honorable President, Please help make this young boy’s last dream come true. He had no choice but to leave North Korea due to uncontrollable hunger. As a father, I believe that it is my duty to help fulfill his last wishes. The cooperation of the Mongolian government would help fulfill the dream of a young refugee and my last responsibility as a father.


Best wishes for the prosperity of the people of Mongolia


Ryu Sang-Jun

June, 12th 2003.