How are North Korean women supposed to speak?
"How are North Korean Women Supposed to Speak" was presented Wednesday night by University of British Columbia professor Ross King at the 72nd Societas Koreana Lecture Meeting.
After learning about ways the North Korean government expects North Korean women to speak, I returned to my office to learn that seven North Korean refugees had been captured in China.
About 30 minutes later, I listened as the rapid response duo of TNKR co-founder Eunkoo Lee and Stepping Stones co-founder Jihyun Park (based in the U.K.) translated one of several interviews for the sister of one of the captured refugees.
How are North Korean women supposed to speak when they are kidnapped by government agents and threatened with repatriation to a known human rights violator?
The captured sister had been caught in China once before, but the Chinese man who had purchased her and the people in the town successfully protested against her being returned to North Korea.
The free sister, now in South Korea, repeatedly warned her sister that she could not continue counting on such good luck.
How are North Korean women supposed to speak after they have been physically violated? The free sister knew the risks and told her story when asked by the reporter a she herself had been repatriated to North Korea when she was six months pregnant, and was forced to have an abortion.
Repatriation, forced abortion, torture. How are North Korean women supposed to speak about these things to people with little understanding about North Korea?
As I listened to the interview, I thought about the all-time stupid question routinely asked of North Korean refugees: "What do you miss about North Korea?"
I suppose the questioners mean besides repatriation, forced abortion, torture, starvation, famines, songbun, public executions.
How are North Korean women supposed to speak about the worst-case scenario happening a who can be emotionally prepared for such a disaster? The free sister did not know which way to turn after she got the phone call from China informing her that her sister had been arrested.
Should she start a public campaign? Or remain silent, as refugees caught in such situations say that South Korean government officials advise them?
How are North Korean women supposed to speak when they live in North Korea's male-dominated society, are targeted by human traffickers in China, and are at risk of torture, rape and forced abortions when they are returned to North Korea?
Clearly, according to North Korea and China, North Korean women are not supposed to speak about their dreams of living as free people.
Casey Lartigue Jr., co-founder of the Teach North Korean Refugees Global Education Center, wrote this after an interview with the sister of a North Korean refugee captured in China on March 24.