"I wish I can go back for a day"

 Nam Gyu Hyeong doubts he will ever be able to go back to his hometown in North Korea [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

Nam Gyu Hyeong doubts he will ever be able to go back to his hometown in North Korea [Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera]

Part two of Al Jazeera's series on North Korean defectors features 81-year-old Nam Gyu Hyeong who fled as a 14-year-old student during the Korean War and worked his way up as a lawyer.

"It was 1950 and I was a 14-year-old student. The US military was stationed near my town near Hyesan city in North Korea. One afternoon, me, my 40-year-old cousin, his son and some seniors from school hopped on a military truck. We made it as far as the Geoje Island south of Busan where we were kept in a refugee camp for a year." 

In contrast to other defectors, Nam never felt alienated in his new country, but rather felt grateful for the aid of locals - a family who took him in, a police chief, and business partners. 

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"South Korea has been really nice to me. It's given me so much and I feel happy. I wish I can go back for a day and see my hometown but I doubt much of my family is left. I just want to see what has changed and what life is like now. But I doubt that would be possible."

Listen to the full interview here: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/north-korea-day-180216104750295.html