Yu Sunhui calmly recounted how she escaped North Korea by train, jumping off often to avoid the checkpoints. She had to swim across a river to China, where she was sold to human traffickers before she managed to make her way to South Korea in 2010.
Yu spoke through an interpreter after arriving Sunday in San Francisco as part of a delegation of North Korean defectors visiting the Bay Area. The visit, organized by the Hometown Mission Association for North Korea in Seattle and Korean Churches Council of San Francisco, includes 29 refugees, most of whom are living in the South Korean capital of Seoul.
Yu, 59, a former lieutenant in the North Korean military, recently obtained a green card and moved to Southern California, where she hopes to help other North Korean refugees better adjust to life in this country. She said she would like Americans to better understand North Korea. North Koreans are taught the United States is the “ultimate enemy,” but Yu described her experiences with Americans as “exactly the opposite of the way we were brainwashed.”
This is the third delegation Seattle Pastor John Yoon, who escaped North Korea in 1950 and has been living in the U.S. for 36 years, has arranged to help Americans better understand the plight of North Koreans. Yoon said he wants North Korean refugees who now have the freedom to travel to learn about the United States, and he wants the world to better understand the abuses that North Koreans are undergoing at the hands of the government.
[San Francisco Chronicle]