“It hurts to remember that my two daughters were shot”… North and South Korean women shed tears together in England
“It was very painful to hear about the children being shot again. Still, if women meet like this, open their hearts and touch each other with warm hands, I think it will be helpful for peaceful unification.”
After Mo Lee, a North Korean defector living in England, finished his remarks, there was silence in the venue for a while, and only whispers could be heard here and there.
When Ms. Lee, who is nearly 70 years old, shared her pain as a mother during her escape from North Korea, not only North Korean defectors who had similar experiences but also South Korean women shared their hearts with tears.
On the 11th (local time), the 2nd Peace Forum for Compatriots from South and North Korea was held in London, UK, co-hosted by the Korean Embassy in the UK and the British Council for Democracy and Peace.
It is almost the first time that women from North and South Korea living in the UK have been able to meet and talk about peace on the Korean Peninsula and the reconciliation of Koreans between South and North Korea.
The UK is the only Western country where South Koreans and North Korean defectors live together.
In the New Malden area of Koreatown outside London, Koreans from North and South Korea are intertwined with their neighbors, shopkeepers and customers, landlords and tenants, and parents.
On this day, participants deepened understanding and shared aspirations for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The panelists from North Korean defectors expressed their sincere stance on the ‘strong’ image of North Korean women and expressed their will for unification.
Park Mi-so, head of the public relations department of the Jaeyoung Korean Association, said, “I feel sorry for North Korean women, even though they admit that they have a strong vitality, an aggressive tone, and a strong voice.”
He explained that it was because he had gone through a difficult march and defection.
He said, “How would a mother feel if her close neighbor, her husband, starved to death and her children starve? That’s when the mass defection began.
He emphasized that the North Korean defectors have a strong desire for unification, saying, “Your parents are in North Korea, but in a world where video calls are made, North Korea cannot send letters or phone calls.”
Lee said, “North Korean defectors come after their children die, bury them in the desert, and if they fall into the Mekong River, they leave it alone.” When I do, I go out to live again,” he said.
During the defection process, Lee suffered the pain of being shot and killed with two daughters repatriated to North Korea.
He later moved to England with his son and young grandson to settle there.
He said, “I settled in Manchester and shared food with Koreans and built friendships,” he said.
Shinmun-kyung, a professor at Richmond University from South Korea who appeared on the panel, said, “There are many misunderstandings and conflicts because our compatriots speak different languages.”
Professor Shin explained, “When North Korean defectors have a problem, they immediately speak straight and harsh words.
“On the contrary, North Korean defectors feel that South Koreans are sophisticated and kind, but they don’t understand what’s inside, and they talk about something else behind the scenes,” he said.
Chae Eun-jung, chairman of the public diplomacy committee of the Yu-Chung-A region, in charge of moderation, said, “A strong bond can be formed as a woman apart from the two Koreas.”
In his opening remarks, Korean Ambassador to the United Kingdom Kim Geon said, “I hope that through efforts like this one, compatriots in the UK will understand each other and contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Do-soon Jang, chairman of the British Council for Democracy and Commonwealth, said, “I think that communication between the two Koreas is possible while reducing the gap between the two Koreas than in Korea, where there are minorities from Korea.”
Alexandra Pisa-Pinto, a documentary producer, also attended the event and listened to the stories of North and South Korean women with interest.
His half-brother, Tony Blincoln, Secretary of State, was a Holocaust survivor.
(Photo = Yonhap News)