Korean Service

"Dear Radio Free Asia broadcasters and announcers: Thank you very much. . ."

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Korean Service Listener and Reader Comments

Comment Korean“Every day and night, to you RFA broadcasters who are sending reports to us, I send a greeting of thanks. My name is [name withheld], I escaped from North Korea. Far from my hometown, I am staying in this foreign country, China, helping some family’s farming, day by day… I cannot stand this misery any longer, living in hiding, without basic human rights. I am a 45-year-old man, my hometown is Pyongyang city, Jungku distinct…[details withheld]… I joined the Chosen People’s Army in 1978. I was discharged after almost 10 years and went back to my hometown in 1987.”

“The Party assigned me to Military Factory #26 in Kangghe City, Jakang Province. The code name of the factory is 36574, and we produced short-range missiles. We factory workers were in good shape because we were told to export missiles to Iran and Iraq, and Party leaders gave us suits and cloth. The missiles were 6 meters long and 240 millimeters wide, with a range of 120 kilometers.”

“But as the 1990s began, the food situation became bad, and 20,000 workers in our factory began to suffer from lack of food. In 1996, it was worse, and 10-12 persons died a day from hunger—many more couldn’t work because they were malnourished. Then, on May 10, 2000, a friend who served in the same military unit said we could make several thousand Korean won in a single month in China. With that friend, we crossed the Yalu River at Pochun Kun, Hye-san city, Ryang-kang province.”

“But the Korean-Chinese people abused us because we couldn’t speak Chinese. They arranged jobs for us but took our wages. All of us North Korean refugees have nowhere to go to complain. This has lasted for six years. I don’t know what to do now. I have thought many times about committing suicide. If I return home, I am afraid of the security police—and if the Chinese police arrest me I may be repatriated to North Korea.”

“Our one ray of hope, our only joy every day, is listening to RFA coming from Washington… When I hear about other refugees getting help from [NGOs], how I wish I could be saved too. I pray God that someday I will be able to go to South Korea. Where I am living now, there are six women from North Korea who were married to Chinese men.”—Letter from a North Korean listener in Liaoning province, China, received June 30, 2006

“Dear RFA reporters, you tell only the truth, without lies, to North Koreans—we who are facing starvation today. I listen to your programs every day in China. From your broadcasts, I hear the reality of North Korean authorities who are cheating their own people. From your broadcasts I hear of incredible developments in the outside world, of which I knew nothing until now. From your broadcasts I am learning the joy of [living in a] liberal democracy and the value of human rights in other countries. I learn the joy of liberal democracies and the value of human rights in other countries. Your reporters’ voices are so familiar to me now, and they make the suffering in my mind disappear. It’s like listening to my parents when I was young—I hear hope bubbling up from a fountain, and I am beginning to see. You have taken hold of our minds, us refugees, and you are like a lighthouse to us.”

“You give to us refugees who are hiding in the third country trembling with fear but you give us courage and you show the light to liberty. I want to thank you…I came to China to find some food to help my hungry family members, but then I couldn't go back and now I have become a refugee here in this alien country… The village in which I am living might be called the closest village to the sky.”

“[Name of town] is deep in the mountains, in a valley—it is a small village in northeastern China. I was sold to a Korean Chinese bachelor, and he is brutal. I miss my children at home. I cry, and I spend year after year crying. I never imagined this would happen to me. I left my town without telling anybody that I was going to China at night. All I wanted was to find a little rice and then go back. However, some indescribable thing happened that night. I imagined the crying sound of my children, who were hungry and waiting for their mother. I felt as if I were touching their dirty hands—they were begging for food and wearing rags…”

“I asked my Chinese husband to lend me some money so I can bring my children out from North Korea but he wouldn’t give me permission. I have no legal papers, and I have no place to go. I heard from villagers about two women in a similar case who were sold to China some time ago, and they were captured by Chinese police. [Under interrogation] they revealed who had arranged their escape. That person was arrested by North Korean police. He was beaten severely and became ill and died as a result of torture. I have therefore given up on the idea of returning home to stay here in China. I see these Chinese people farming their own land, living well according to their ability, eating well, making money, dressing well, and living in their houses without worrying. Unlike North Koreans who worry about each meal, day after day."

“In the nearby town, I see many buses come and go. Refugees carry their heavy luggage in their hands, and they travel for many days, back and forth to the mountains, to see a better world. My eyes are now open—and I want to see a better world. Please help me.”—Letter from a female listener in Liaoning province, China, dated June 10, 2006, and received June 30, 2006. All identifying details withheld.

“Dear Mr. and Ms. broadcaster, reporter, announcer of Radio Free Asia, who give us hope and courage. How are you? Thank you very much. We, North Korean escapees in China, diligently listen to your RFA programs, and we consider you a lighthouse, beacon of hope. I came to China in February 1997… In North Korea, we were told through black propaganda that the Republic of Korea [South Korea] is a bad place, but after I arrived in China, I came to realize that a democratic society is a really good place. I wanted to go to South Korea, so I [went to the Nepali border… I was arrested and repatriated to North Korea. But on May 26, 2003, I crossed into… Shanghai. I have managed to visit North Korea in 2004... What is happening in North Korea today is similar to 1997. Many people do not get food distribution. Roaming orphans are everywhere. Robber children are everywhere. Dead people are increasing numbers. Those who tried several times to escape from North Korea...These are jailed, surrounded with barbed wires, and held in separate areas depending to their crimes. Please help me to escape to South Korea. I have tried but failed.”—Letter from North Korean listener in China, 2004

“When I was living in China, I listened to RFA every night. My whole family wrapped around one small radio. I don’t know whether or not you received our letters, but my God, your programs were so helpful! They gave us strength and light.”—North Korean listener in China, 2003

“In North Korea, truth is banned... The words we have dammed up are like a reservoir about to overflow. I must stop here, because if I continue, I could go on forever.”—North Korean listener in China, 2003

“My family is always listening to your radio, and it gives us hope. RFA gives North Korean refugees nourishment, and with it our family will keep smiling... I feel as if your staff are all my friends.”—North Korean listener in China

“…Because the people of North Korea have come to realization that the media used by the North Korean regime is contaminated, they no longer trust the media of North Korea. They tend to rely on outside media more. So if we were to use these channels more effectively I think we can communicate with them more effectively. And also another way would be for us to drop more radios in North Korea, so that people would have a chance to hear this broadcasting more easily.”—North Korean defector and author Kang Chol Hwan

"Dear Radio Free Asia broadcasters and announcers: Thank you very much. I heard your broadcast on the morning of April 27. You said you received my letter, which I mailed April 11. I appreciate so much that you read my letter and that said you cared about my security and wanted protect my identity. I also heard about the Ryongchon station explosion, and I want to share our grief and condolences with the victims. Isn’t it true that any explosion from gunpowder or/and fertilizers can happen only if there’s a detonation, or sparks…? In North Korea, central party dignitaries or military brass travel to the countryside with a detailed plan. Where they go, hour by hour, and what they have said... all must be reported to the central party and the national security service. When Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il travel abroad, it is called 'Il-ho Hang-sa' or 'No. 1 event.' During such trips, all work in mines and military exercises is halted. Also, weapons and ammunition are not distributed. Moving chemicals are stopped. Personally, I wonder how the Ryongchon station explosion could be possible."—North Korean listener in China, May, 2004

"How are you? Dear RFA reporter, sir. You have given courage and strength to defectors... I am sending my tribute from bottom of my heart... We defectors, all of us, are listening to your broadcasts every day... If we miss one single day, we feel emptiness. I have been in China for three years. I have been roaming many places in China... I have witnessed too many cases of how much these refugees suffer mentally and physically. Chinese treatment to us this inhumane must be condemned by the international community. I am too angry that I wasted 40 years of my life in North Korea... It is a society in which basic freedom is ignored, [and propaganda] glorified only Gen. Kim Il Sung. I could not move freely in my own land, could not speak what I think in my own country, that is, in North Korea. It is a wasteland of human rights. People get nothing, not even basic needs. I hate that society. Urgently, even if for one day shorter, we must change the players."—Letter from a North Korean listener in China, May 2004

"I heard your program on April 28... We welcome North Korean Freedom Rally Day in America. Such events will bring democracy to North Korea, a meaningful event. We (defectors) cannot understand how the South Korean government ignores the suffering of North Koreans, their same brothers and sisters. I believe more that than other countries, South Korea should pay attention to this plight. I, with two sons, will also try to go to South Korea, but I cannot do it alone…"—Letter from a North Korean listener in China, May 2004

"I am an ardent listener to your [North Korea] broadcasts. In 2002, I listened more than 300 days. In 2003, I listened more than 350 days. It has become my daily habit. When I listen to RFA, it's like a searchlight that brightens the dark night. Even blind people will see wide-open world when they listen to your broadcasts."—North Korean listener in China

"I am one of the North Korean refugees who love your broadcasts. I hope you remember me—I wrote you many times for last two years. … We don't know when we will be arrested and sent back to North Korea... This painful life [continues] day after day, one day at a time… I hear your radio every day, and with your expanded hours, it is easy to listen to... In this difficult life in a foreign country, RFA programs are like the drinking water of life—and I am sure those who are listening from inside North Korea feel the same way... I remember how I felt when I listened to foreign radio while in North Korea—and those who have no such experience will never understand such feelings… For those who can ask no help, for defectors, RFA is lifeline that talks about life and death. I have informed other defectors about your radio and urged them to listen. Many are suffering from con men [who take advantage of us]. I tell these refugees to lie low, hold onto their hopes, be patient, and listen to RFA."—North Korean listener in China


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