A refugee girl in South Korea

Kim looks like any other 16-year-old girl when you see her shopping in the street in Seoul.

But like 28,000 other refugees, she has escaped from North Korea. One morning in 2011, her mother could no longer bear the misery, lack of freedom and food deprivation, so she and her daughter escaped. Kim was 10 and had to leave the rest of her family, her friends and her school without even having the chance to say goodbye.

They fled their country in secret by crossing by night the river making up the border with China. After making it to China, her mother used her meager savings to pay smugglers to enter Laos, Thailand and finally South Korea eight months later in 2012.

Kim now lives in a dormitory, while attending school. Kim decided on the YeoMyun school, which is run by a Christian association, alternative education suitable for young defectors. Among other things, teachers know that their students have been through trauma when they fled the North, so they deserve special attention.

Like all children in the North, Kim was taught music at school, so she is as comfortable playing drums as electric guitar.

On the weekend, the girls from the dormitory reunite with their families while Kim often stays behind, alone. She uses the opportunity to rest and read Korean mangas. She enjoys preparing a surprise meal for her friends when they return. She loves to cook with aloe but her guilty pleasure is ice cream. She loves buying a 5-litre container to share with her friends while watching a DVD on Sunday night, before resuming the work week.

Kim barely ever talks about her past with her co-tenants. They all have a painful or buried secret they refuse to talk about.

[The Mirror]

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