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"I Was a Broker" (15)
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2016-01-26 11:34:10
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 "I Was a Broker" (15)


RYU Sang-Joon

North Korean defector and activist 

Entered South Korea in 2000



   As I gave my letter to the Mongolian Embassy, I asked that they return the original copies of the cause of death, autopsy, and confirmation documents. I also asked for their cooperation in making sure that my business when smoothly in Jameonnudeueseo. About a month went by with no news, when I heard from a X organization that Mongolia was on vacation right now and the political situation seemed turbulent. They told me that if I heard news from the embassy, then I could always enter Mongolia then. If not, they advised that I should asked for help from an X missionary organization and enter Mongolia with them. In August, I made it to Jameonnudeueseo through Ulaanbaatar, and when I arrived, I stared in the direction of my first escape route.  How many refugees had battled with life and death, unknowing what hardship lay in front of them? This was the reality of today and to think that my Chul-Min died calling out his father’s name in this forsaken land…my heart ached with uncontrollable sadness. I hope that at least your soul is resting in a beautiful land. Sleep, peacefully and quietly. The Deputy Director to the Mongolian Secret Intelligence Agency was an older, gentle man. He seemed to understand the heartbreak of a father who had lost a son and had prepared everything for me. He looked after us so well on our way back to Ulaanbaatar and I would like to take a chance right now to thank him again. I went to the Korean Embassy in Mongolia and asked them to return the cause of death and autopsy papers that I had sent to the Mongolian Embassy. The Embassy told me that they did not know what I was talking about. I asked them again to return the documents that I had submitted to the Mongolian government and that I had sent it officially to the Mongolian government and that they had no right to interfere. The Embassy acted as if it was the first time they had heard of such as thing. In my anger I claimed that if they were unable to give it to me, then I would return to South Korea right now. It was then that a officer that seemed to be in charge asked me to wait a minute and ran someplace. I waited about an hour until he returned with a folder in hand. I opened the folder to see a few documents contained in English. I asked him what was written here and he replied that he did not know. I don’t even think that he read the document. I spent hours at the Embassy and the realization that this was the reality of our foreign relations, and that these incompetent men were government employees fed by the country, made me feel hollow inside. I wanted to return to South Korea quickly. I spent a night at an inn that the Embassy recommended and I was able to get on a flight to Seoul the next day. When I arrived home, I learned that the man from apartment 405 had been taken to the hospital due to brain damage. He had always treated me like I was his own sibling, and had worried for me all the time. Kim Seung-Hei had accompanied me from Incheon Airport but he offered to accompany me to the Hallym Hospital, after hearing the news that my neighbor had been hospitalized. We entered the hospital ward for critical patients where we found out that he still had not regained conscious and an old lady stood by his bed. She was his mother and she greeted us with surprise. It seemed that she was waiting for someone to confide to with his life’s fate in balance next to her. Seung-Hei said that she wanted to go to the woman’s home and make food for her, which I opposed. The three of us ended up dining in the cafeteria. People of South Korea seemed kind and beautiful on the inside. I think it was because of their kind souls that helped the world go round. 


   I sat alone in the middle of the night and told my son to live in a heaven much better than this life. North Dongjihoe’s president, Kim Sung-Min (Freedom North Korea Broadcasting station representative) and Huh Kwang-Il from North Korean Refugee Association helped me greatly with the memorial service for my son, Chul-Min. Sung Min and I went to the Odusan Unification Observatory with Chul-Min’s remains. Our homeland on which we grew up with hopes and dreams had turned into a barren wasteland of Kim Jung-Il’s dictatorship. It was a land that I could never return to even if I wanted to. I had a lot of regrets as well as grudges left in that land, but something instinctive in me hoped that I wanted to be buried in my homeland. Sung-Min and Huh Kwang-Il stared out into Chul-Min’s homeland with me and wished for him to rest peacefully. This was why we chose the Oduan Unification Observatory since North Korea was visible from here. There were many refugees and members from North Korean Human Rights organizations waiting for us to arrive and the quiet and somber mood prevailed since they were waiting to put a young soul to rest. The memorial service started with Kim Min-Su (North Dongjihoe’s Head of International  Cooperation)’s speech, followed by a moment of silence, ending with  Cheongiwon’s representative’s tribute and Sung-Min’s eulogy.  I wrote a poem for my son:


Spring and Fall,

There is someone waiting for you.

I’ve never forgotten you for an hour

There is a someone calling your name

When there is a pretty shoe I see

I think of your broken and blistered feet

I cried for you

In front of the school or in front of a stationary store 

I stared out at the Northern Sky

I couldn’t forget you, not for an hour, or for a day

My dear son, you are dead

You have returned to me only in death

Was it that hard to find your father

Was it the road to freedom that perilous

The only reason you left your home was to live

Why was the way to life completely blocked? 

What is institution and what is ideology?

Why were you buried in the desert at the tender age of twelve?

As you crawled, parched, through the dry desert

What were the fathers in this country doing?

Chul-min! Close your eyes peacefully

With the heart wrenching fact that I must bury my son

Trust the fathers that will avenge you 

No longer will sons fall before fathers

No longer will they starve to death or be beaten to death

For a land where sons won’t freeze to death

I lay my flower on the institution of freedom.

Chul-min, no matter how much I call you, you don’t answer

Look after the living with the rest your un-lived life

Until you are at rest

Look over our promise to freedom.