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I didn’t grow up in North Korea but rather in Japan. My parents, however, had lived in Korea and were strong supporters of North Korea. They were members of the pro-North Korean Resident’s League. North Korea created propaganda specifically for people like my parents (Koreans living in Japan). My parents were deceived by this propaganda and we wound up moving to North Korea.

At first, our lives were not too bad when we moved to North Korea. We brought money and pos sessions with us; these belongings made life a little more bearable. My parents also had a few friends who were willing to help. During that time, we had items to sell for food and I was even able to find a job at the commercial bank.

Gradually, however, life became difficult. Because we had immigrated into North Korea, many people discriminated against us. We were neither treated fairly nor promoted — regardless of our efforts.

Then, within a short space of time, I lost my parents and two brothers.

All these things begin to add up: I started to have a strong desire to flee North Korea. Because of this desire, I started to do something strange. At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing. Now, however, I realise that I was praying. I was praying to God for help and salvation.

The longer we lived in North Korea, the more desperate we became to leave the country. My granddaughter had an especially difficult time tolerating our miserable lifestyle, so, despite her young age, she built up the courage to defect the country — and she made it. But she didn’t forget me. After defecting, she worked hard, saved up money and eventually, bribed a broker to smuggle me out of North Korea.

Our bad days ended the day that I arrived in South Korea. I believe that it was God’s providence that brought me here.

Thanks to my granddaughter’s hard work, I initially arrived in China safely. From China, I travelled into Laos with the help of another broker. There, another broker helped me climb over a mountain under the cover of night. We arrived at a beach in Thailand the next morning. The border was heavily guarded, but we made it through.

Once there, I turned myself into the Thai police. They brought me to a prison where I stayed for ten days. Since many North Koreans travel through Thailand on their way to South Korea, the officers in this prison had learned the North Korean language and I was able to speak with them in North Korean.

Finally, I was handed over to South Korean officials.

I do not regret having left North Korea. It is neither my homeland nor a place that’s given me fond memories. South Korea has given me the opportunity to begin anew with a light heart and a new vision. These days, I am rich in heart and every day is special to me because I know that God is always with me. I know he is the one who is keeping me safe and happy. Prayer is the best part of my new life; it is like the communication between a father and his child.

It was by God’s grace that I was able to hear from my granddaughter after she defected from North Korea. She called me and even sent a broker into North Korea to find me! Even now, I wonder about how this could be possible.

Living in North Korea is tough, but I think that God blessed me by giving me the desire to flee from North Korea and stand firm in that hope. God himself is the greatest reward that I have ever received! Now I don’t need to worry about what to eat, how to live, how to heal, or who to rely on — God is the answer to all of these questions. He surely is the greatest reward for
my faith.

One day, I hope to be able to return to where I once lived as a missionary, so that I can share my personal testimony with others. What a pity it is that North Koreans are still living with no hope and with no future! Because God has healed my own suffering, I want to tell others about the God who will help them in their times of trouble. But to do that, I need to learn more about the Bible and live according to its words.

I don’t think North Koreans will come to faith easily. Most of them will reject my message or mock me for my faith. I know this because I was once one of them. It took me several years until I could finally believe in God. Even now, I do not know everything about the Bible. However, I have experienced God, and he has answered my prayers — even when I did not know how to pray!

The only way to respond to God’s awesome grace is to reach out to my fellow North Koreans continually and bring them to Christ.

I have now enrolled in a Voice of the Martyrs Bible training course to learn more about how to serve God. During one of the classes, we travelled to a cemetery where foreign missionaries are buried and learned about the sacrifices that foreign missionaries made to support Christians in Korea. These missionaries travelled long distances to arrive in Korea and risked their lives for the sole purpose of helping Koreans hear the Gospel, repent, be saved, and live like Christians. These missionaries have inspired me to study hard, write all the words of God on my heart and live according to these words.

I want to pray continually, to show kindness to others, and to, eventually, attain the stage of spirituality where I can even lay down my life for others.

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