Letter: My North Korea

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
My North Korea

North Korea inspires fear of loss. Loss of livelihood, property and ultimately life. However, for me, North Korea engenders longing: longing for my relatives in the north, the ones I came to know, not through presents and candy, but through fading portraits on a gelatin silver print. Their stares are mischievous, almost rebellious; their looks are as good as any beautiful South Korean. Their photographs contradict the poster image of North Koreans as red demons with horns.

Our family’s ancestral homeland is in what is now North Korea. For some we are North Korean, for others we are victims of ideology. Our community is likewise split. Many seniors, like my gramps, having experienced the misery of communism during the war, are diehard anti-communists believing we ought to take the fight to Pyongyang. They are at odds with the younger generation, that of my parents, who believe in peace and reconciliation. I am caught in between. While I despise Kim Jong-un, I am deeply worried about the immense suffering a new conflict would bring. While we are at loggerheads on North Korea, what unites our three generations is the pain of separation, which for us is deeply personal.

There are no easy solutions, but we need to stop arguing blindly believing what the government or media wants us to believe. We need to accept that North Koreans aren’t villains in some video game. These are real people, friends and family who deserve the same rights as the rest of us.