When I was three years old, my parents suddenly disappeared.
Nobody knows if they died or if they were sent into a concentration
camp for political prisoners. My step-parents treated me worse
than a beast. I was hardly fed daily, so I grew up as a beggar.
Since I remained a Kochebi (street child) until I escaped into
China, I never had a chance to go to a school. In North Korea,
while I was living the Kochebi life, I begged but I also broke
into houses to steal from time to time.
In March 2000, at age 19, I escaped into China to survive,
because I heard that I could get enough food to fill my stomach
and also make some money, too. I worked in a village in Yanbien,
China. I was paid 300 RMB. However, I could not stay there
long, since the Chinese police frequently came to hunt North
Korean defectors in hiding. So, as soon as I saved enough money,
I moved to Shandong Province where I worked at a Korean restaurant.
At first, I lied that I was a Korean Chinese, but later I honestly
confessed that I was a North Korean. For this, I was fired.
I was once arrested and repatriated to North Korea in 2002.
It was 2 weeks after I had lymphatic gland surgery when they
sent me back to North Korea. After going through Onsong detention
center, I was sentenced to 6 months in a labor camp. I was not
yet healed following the surgery, and the labor camp was unsanitary.
Because of that and the widespread malnourishment in the labor
camp, the incision from my surgery became infected. The inflammation
caused my ears, jaw and neck to swell, making it difficult to
eat or drink. It was useless, however, to expect medical treatment
at the detention center. Instead, they forced me to work even
harder. They regarded me as a criminal because I had escaped
from the country.
The lack of medical treatment has left me an ugly scar. Furthermore,
on my neck is a swollen, egg-sized lump. This lump has burst
open four times in the past.
In addition, sleeping in that cold place,
combined with the malnourishment at the detention center, has
bladder problem as well.
Urinating hurts badly, and I cannot fully empty my bladder.
I decided to try and reach South Korea, since staying in China
is so difficult with no legal status. My lack of legal status
makes it impossible to get proper medical treatment. I would
so much like to go to a real doctor so that I can receive proper
treatment. Please help me.
Lee Sun Ja (Name changed to protect her safety)