Why these North Korean defectors are learning English

Yoon-ho: “I took a leave of absence from my university because I was struggling with classes, mainly because of English. I had also applied for some opportunities abroad, but I was rejected because my English wasn’t good enough.”

Sunhee: “Some people think that because I am studying hair design and working in a beauty salon that I don’t need English, but that is not true. I have attended many workshops and career fairs where it is clear that you need English. I am at the final stage of a competition for an internship abroad for which there will be an individual English interview.”

Hyunhee: “My major is nursing, and there is so much English terminology that I must learn. When it is time for discussion in my university classes, I am quiet because I don’t have confidence to say anything in English. It is so stressful because next semester I will have three classes in English.”

Hea-young: “I remember the moment that I decided I would learn English. I was at church, a foreigner greeted me. But I could not reply, even the word “hello” was stuck in my brain but could not come out of my lips. I was thinking, “I escaped from North Korea where I was taught that foreigners are dangerous, but I was with some foreigners trying to talk to me, but I can’t communicate at even a basic level.”

Mikyung: “I saw Yeonmi Park give a speech at an international event. ….At that moment, I decided I would focus on English.”

[Korea Times]

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