This is not a song one would think that a North Korean refugee would write. It is especially unexpected of a woman who has been trafficked and physically abused, a woman who has spent time in a North Korean prison camp. However, after two years in the care of Crossing Borders, having received the gospel and been ministered to by the faithful missionaries on the field, “Ok-seo,” one of the North Korean refugees a part of Restore Life program shared this personally written song with us. Ok-seo has found hope in Christ through the underground church in China.
Ok-seo was well to do in North Korea. She didn’t suffer during the Great North Korean Famine of the 1990s during which an estimated 3 million people starved to death. But when her husband took her 10-year-old son with him to be with another woman, her life took a turn for the worse.
She began selling copper taken from electrical wiring on North Korea’s sputtering electrical grid. This is a grave crime in North Korea and when caught, she was sent to prison. Ok-seo, however, said that she had been lucky. If she had be caught stealing wires going to or from the North Korean capitol of Pyongyang, she would have been executed.
When Ok-seo got out of prison, her friend who was also in the copper trade, told her that she could make $500 a month in China in a tailoring factory. But when she crossed the border she immediately realized that something was very wrong. Ok-seo had been tricked. She had stepped into the waiting hands of a human trafficking ring. Ok-seo begged her captors to sell her to someone without physical defects. Many North Korean refugee women are sold to Chinese men with disabilities. They honored her request and sold Ok-seo to a Chinese farmer who had an immense amount of debt.
Her husband and his family physically and verbally abused Ok-seo to the point where she would get severe migraines. Desperate, she turned to a neighbor, a fellow North Korean refugee who was also trafficked. This woman brought her to church.
Ok-seo said that shortly after she started attending church, her migraines went away.
Outwardly, Ok-seo's situation as a North Korean refugee has not changed. She is still struggling to find the means to survive with her family. However, her outlook on life has transformed. Ok-seo was recently given a journal from our missionaries and wrote the lyrics to the song she she shared after North Korean women in her village were sent back to North Korea. The tune is a of a traditional North Korean song.
In fear, Ok-seo has found hope. Please pray for her and the tens of thousands of North Korean refugees like her - that they would find restoration and strength in God.