Oh Eun-jeong, 26, defected from Kyongsong, North Korea in 2009:
My dad was a sailor, and he had alcohol problems, but still, I had a happy childhood.
In North Korea, I had read only one novel, which I’d borrowed from a neighbor. It was all torn and there were pages missing, but it was all I had. Years later, then in college in South Korea, I discovered a wonderful Korean literature professor whose way of teaching was very emotional, and I ended up taking three classes with him. The whole time, I was writing down little notes in my phone. I didn’t even know that the notes I was writing were poetry. I was just scribbling spontaneously.
“Even though there is oppression, there were also moments of happiness,
and I don’t have to deny those times.”
The biggest motivation for me behind writing poetry was missing my sister so much. I was so full of hurt, I was overflowing with hurt, and I had to let it out onto the page. It was a whole new world to me. I felt like each cell in my body was coming to life.
My first book came out in 2015. It’s called “Calling Home.” I was invited onto a TV channel, and I gave poetry readings. That’s how I was selected as a rising poet, and I was asked to contribute to another collection.
A lot of my works are related to North Korea. I have such fond memories of there. Even though there is oppression, there were also moments of happiness, and I don’t have to deny those times. People are hungry and life is hard, but the essence of humanity is the same.
This entry was posted in North Korean refugee by Grant Montgomery.