How Foreign Media Changed My Life – Joo Yang, North Korean (CC)
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How Foreign Media Changed My Life – Joo Yang, North Korean (CC)

Joo Yang, actually it’s her first time to the United States. It’s her first time actually outside of Asia and she was kind of nervous, but really excited, to come to the United States for the first time, and so please give it up for Joo Yang. My name is Joo Yang, and my hometown is Chongjin in the North Hamgyong province in the very north of the country. I left North Korea in 2010 and I arrived in South Korea in 2011. So, I want to tell you about growing up in North Korea, and accessing foreign media despite the government’s restrictions. My family listened to radio secretly for 10 years. So we had bigger radios and small radios which we would hide and listen to together under a blanket every night and every morning. So our family made a strategy of how to defect. If our whole family moved together, it would be very dangerous so we made a three-time escape strategy. In 2007, my father succeeded. So after my father arrived, some organizations and missionaries helped out our family. The second time, my mother and two younger siblings escaped successfully. In 2009, I tried to escape but failed. It’s very dangerous for me to be there, so my father sent money to me. North Korean officers, they were accepting bribes from people, so I just moved to another province and attended college. So I just stayed there safely Then, my father and my family in South Korea, they sent me a laptop, it was a Toshiba laptop, and also an MP3 player. But our university friends, they all had MP3 players, so we were listening to music and dance from South Korea. My friend and I were watching movies from other countries. Actually, in North Korea they are allowed to watch other countries’ movies, but only a few countries, like Russia, China, and India But only very old movies. Today’s movies are not allowed But we tried, especially South Korean movies. And we watched American movies too — — James Bond, Charlie’s Angels, and also Drop Zone I only remember the skydiver’s parachute was broken and the one man had to save another man. (laughing) I have two best girl friends, who after we watched Charlies Angels we told ourselves, “We are Charlie’s Angels, we are Charlie’s Angels!” (laughing) People say to me that I’m a little bit pretty, but my friends are really really beautiful. I miss them. I was 13 years old when I tried to do private business. My parents’ generation, they had rations, but our generation, no, so I did private business since I was 13 years old. Fruit, meat, suckers, sweets, liquor, also cigarettes. In North Korea, cigarettes are popular because people use it for government bribes. So we used cigarettes and they were good business. I did good business. This is my family. In 2011 I arrived also successfully. I got arrested in China one time. When I was arrested I was really afraid at that time. Chinese police accept bribes, so I successfully came into South Korea. I was reunited with my family in 2011, so this is my beautiful family. I’m so happy now! It’s like dreaming. (applause) Thank you. North Koreans do manual labor, always using their bodies. But South Koreans or other countries in the movies, they just use a computer. It looks so comfortable! But I now work at LiNK as a Research and Strategy Intern in South Korea so I’m now using a computer! It’s so comfortable! Also I’ve appeared on the South Korean TV show, “Now on My way to Meet You,” with Yeon Mi and also other beautiful Unni together to proclaim about North Korea, and about life and culture Because we are divided for 70 years, usually South Koreans, especially the young generations, they don’t know about what happens in North Korea. They only know about weapons, and the Kim family, But inside the people is different, right? We are trying to change, we are hungry for freedom we are watching movies very secretly, but we try to do that right? Are you understanding my English? (applause) I really thank you for your interest about North Korea. Also I want to thank LiNK. I’m so surprised; when I was in North Korea I didn’t know people…our life was just our life… North Korea’s religion and movement, speaking and everything is not free. Suppressed, right? But I am now free. Im really thankful for you guys, especially LiNK and especially this opportunity. Sorry. (crying) We are refugees, right? In South Korea there are a lot of refugees, they are now connected in North Korea, they are using the Chinese cell phones, but very illegal. We can connect. So I can call my friend, and say “Here is a lot of people in the world who are helping you. OK, fighting!” I can say that. And I am now learning English! I can tell them. I am so happy to meet you, I feel like I’m dreaming now. I’m in America now, I was in North Korea watching movies. Freedom was just our dream. But now I am here, so thank you so, so much. (applause)


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