I tried hard to unearth the memories of happiness that I had felt under my parents' care, but I wasn't sure if such a day would ever come.
And then, after an excruciating year and a half of waiting, I finally arrived in South Korea. I had arrived after a harrowing journey through a third country, and now I was trying to draw a dramatic new curve in my life; I immediately set about trying to enjoy myself. After all, I had left all of my painful memories behind.
This place had always seemed so far away, even though it was near. It is definitely my land, although sixty-years of division has brought many challenges. So I am trying to enjoy the happiest moments of my life in this land.
For the first time after I arrived in South Korea, it was Hanawon which gave me a sense of hope and instilled in me precious dreams, while sensible, intelligent teachers calmed my soul.
After passing through Hanawon (the resettlement education center for North Korean defectors outside Seoul) I moved to the rented accommodation which, for the first time, was in my own name. It came to be my precious home.
But when things become difficult from time to time, the Tumen River still comes to mind. Amidst the darkness and hope, the irrevocable sadness of my past which I exchanged for what I have today... I try hard to think of the precious freedom which I have been given in compensation.
Then I tell myself, "This kind of suffering is nothing. I risked my life to come here; this is nothing. I am really fortunate to be leading this life." After divesting myself of negativity time and time again, I go back to basics, try to focus my life and fill my heart with beautiful memories, one by one.
I think of the taste of raw octopus when I tried it for the first time; I think of spending two hours on the subway when it should have taken half an hour; I think of wandering for several hours because I could not find my apartment among other, similar apartments; and I think of laughing out loud on my porch after finally finding my home.
I wondered whether I could endure life in South Korea, especially with this frail body. But, just as I was becoming really concerned, I was fortunate enough to land an interview for a job. I am still grateful to those who offered their hand to work with me even though I lacked skills… my colleagues who patiently taught me to be the person I am today... and those who took care of me when I became ill because I couldn’t adjust fully to life here.
And now, unearthing everything which I could not help but leave behind on the banks of the Tumen River... I live counting the days until North and South can become one again. And, when that day comes, I will reveal all the pages of my beautiful life here in South Korea... (The end)