Hi, I am Suji, the eldest daughter of Choi Yong-hun.
On the first of November 2002, our family of four moved to China,
where my younger sister and I began settling in to our new life
there. We started school in January 2003. But just two months
after our move to China, our father was arrested by the Chinese
police for attempting to help some North Korean refugees. I had
trouble believing he had been arrested since the media were reporting
that he had been helping a group of refugees from North Korea.
As soon as he was arrested, we started receiving dozens of telephone
calls every day, most of them threatening us. This was so frightening
that we abandoned everything and returned to South Korea. Maybe
nobody can really understand just how much we suffered when our
father was taken away from us in a foreign country.
Back in our own country, we were disheartened
to find that we had no house to live in and were mostly unwelcome.
We had no
choice but to stay at our uncle’s house. My mother constantly
works day and night to make a living. She works hard, trying
to scrape together enough extra for airfare to China where she
can visit our
father in jail, but everyday living expenses always take everything
Our grandmother developed a serious heart problem
following the news that our father was jailed in China. My mother
stayed at the hospital during my grandmother’s heart surgery.
Although I constantly worried about my mother, I could not control
my urge to escape from all the hardship. I actually ran away
from home once. My mother, however, was patient and never stopped
loving me. Thanks to her love, I was finally able to accept the
reality of what has happened and to begin coping with it. I am
now in the second year of high school, and have learned to understand
and love people who are suffering.
It is still extremely painful, however, to see my mother working
so hard to earn enough to make up for our missing father. For
both of us girls and for
she works several jobs, including an open-air market at night,
a fish market in the early morning, and a sewing factory all
In the 3 years and 9 months since my father
was arrested and jailed, his health has gotten worse in the Chinese
It has been nearly four years, and in that time I have only
been able to go visit him twice. My father desperately wants
me and my younger sister. I wish we could afford to
go see him every month and take him the medicines and necessities
he needs. I really do wish somebody could help.
I never stop hoping that father will come back to us soon. I
looked at our family album again today. The last photo of my
father with me and my younger sister shows me still in junior
high and my sister still small.
I would so much like to take
a picture of our whole family together, my father, my mother,
my younger sister and me. We girls have grown so much bigger
now. I could put the picture beside our TV and look at it all
Please help us keep hoping.