Escaping from North Korea

Posted: 19th April 2024

In assembly, boys were addressed by Timonthy Cho about his experiences of life in North Korea. Timothy’s story is a truly fascinating one. His parents fled the country when he was a child, leaving him in the care of his grandmother. As a result of famine, he found himself homeless and living on the streets. He was denied an education on account of his parents’ defection. In North Korea, people are punished for the ‘crimes’ of their relatives. He was not even allowed to join the Army for the same reason. He managed to escape across the border to China but was returned to North Korea and imprisoned. He still bears the scars of this. He escaped again to China. This time, largely because of international publicity concerning his plight and that of his fellow escapees, he was deported to the Philippines from where he made his way to the United Kingdom. Since arriving in this country, he has learnt English, acquired two university degrees and now works in the political field, promoting awareness of the situation in his country of origin.

The pupils were completely enthralled by what Timothy had to say. Totalitarian regimes such as the Kim regime in North Korea can seem slightly distant and unreal for people who have no personal experience of them. Here was a living example of how such regimes can impose terrible sanctions on those who live under their rule, but it was also clear that they do not have the power to compel obedience in the wider sense. We were all reminded of how lucky we are to have the basic freedoms and how we should not take them for granted.

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