In 2010, when Ms. Lee sat in “repatriation prison” in North Korea, life was worse than a nightmare. She does not go into detail about the torture but she confirms that it was a fact of daily life. There are many reports now worldwide about what happens in these prisons, to those who are caught as refugees in China and returned to North Korea. Each day, she woke up knowing that she would either experience cruelty, terror and humiliation, or witness it being inflicted on others.
Ms. Lee had been born in Hyoryung, Hamkyungbookdo in early 1980s. After she had graduated from school, she was placed to work at a machine factory. By the time, the North Korean great famine hit the land in 1990s, her father who suffered from malnutrition became ill often. Life was full of sorrow, but at least it had not included systematic torture ? yet.
During that time, Ms. Lee tried to survive by selling little things as a merchant, so that she could get food for the family. Nevertheless, her father died.
What could she do now? She felt the only way to survive would be to escape to China. She crossed the Tuman River in 2003. She was caught by human traffickers, and sold to a man 5 years senior than herself.
Life had been so hard before her escape to China - and the experience of being sold to a stranger was also indescribably hard. North Korean refugees are usually looked down upon in China. But her misfortune seemed endless when she was caught and “repatriated” backed to North Korea in 2010. It is the worst fear of every refugee, to be caught and returned to the political camps and prisons of North Korea. There is no mercy there.
Now the torture began. She was not alone - she also witnessed others who had attempted escape to South Korea, who were taken to political prison camp with maximum security. This was a place of complete hopelessness and horror. The sounds and sights of heartbreak were never ending.
In 2014, Ms. Lee found a way to flee to China again. Because of what she had witnessed and experienced in prison, she could not sleep at night... she suffered from insomnia, haunted by the memories of all the cruelty.
However, in China she was exposed to a program on “Channel A”. It was on “Channel A” that she saw Ji, Seongho (the founder of NAUH). As she heard his story and about the work of NAUH, she could hardly believe it! Were there actually people in the outside world who cared about people like her? She had never known any compassion towards people who had escaped the terrors of North Korea.
Hope began to come alive in her heart.
Ms. Lee was able to contact the NAUH emergency rescue team. It was a completely new experience for Ms. Lee to see caring faces, to hear compassionate voices, and to receive comfort and solid hope. From that point, she was connected with us, and we were able to make plans with her for a new life, free from such intense suffering.
What can it feel like to suddenly hope, after years of prison and sorrow? Because of the compassion of readers like you, we are able to help those who have never had hope before.
We honor Ms. Lee for her years of faithfulness to her family, for her efforts to save her father. We honor her for her bravery in surviving prison and her courage in escaping danger over and over and over. We believe she should experience peace, healing, and encouragement.
Please join us in saving one life at a time.
We at NAUH desire to rescue every person who appeals to us for help, but there are times we must turn people down because of lack of funding.
It costs about $2000 USD to save one refugee life. (Our priority is orphans, women, and men in that order)
Because of your love, we are saving one life at a time;
NAUH has partnered with you so far to give freedom to 432 lives.