These are 38 letters
written with grief to Mom, Dad and beloved family and friends from the “Durihana”
community members. They will never be sent.
To my mom in
Mom! Mom! Can you
hear me? I’m Wonmyung. Today we were told to write letters to anyone and I
want to write one to you. I miss you so much. Is it hot and rainy, where you
are too? It’s a little cooler today at school because of the rain. It was quite
hot until yesterday.
Mom! I can now ride
the bike that dad bought me. I learned to ride it yesterday and I can already
ride it after a single day! I wanted to show off that I can ride my bike. I
would very much like to ride my bike with you, Mom and Dad. Good bye, Mom!
From Wonmyung (9 years old)
To my big sister,
wherever you are,
Hi sister, where
are you? If you hadn’t been sold to China, you could have joined us here in
South Korea. I am now in South Korea, studying and attending church at Durihana.
I play with my friends here.
It’s already been
5 years since we have been separated in North Korea when I was ten. I am now
15 years old. You used to carry me on your back, make my meals and look out
for me. I used to like you better than Mom. If I do get to meet you again, I
would so much like to thank you. I would like to go back into the past and apologize
for not listening to you and thank you for raising me.
I envy my friends
with big sisters. I miss you and Mom so much. There is plenty to eat here and
I am well. Where are you? How are you? I would so much like to meet you at least
once. I would like to meet you no matter what. I am praying for this to happen.
I will study hard and do my best at everything. So please do not give up hope
no matter how hard this world is for you. I will look for you and find you.
Please stay alive! I will find you. Please stay alive!
From Jinsung (14 years old)
It’s me, Wonhyuk.
I came to South Korea and met Pastor Kiwon Chun. I have come to know of Jesus.
My pastor tells me that whoever believes in Jesus can go to heaven. I hope you
can believe in Jesus too. Then you can go to heaven too. It’s been a while
since we have last seen each other. I suppose you have grown a lot. I am still
You are the only
one I can spill my thoughts out to. This is why I am writing to you. I was really
sad when my mom died of a heart attack.
Do you have a dream?
I have a dream. I want to become a pastor. I am taking one step at a time to
become one. If you have a dream, I hope you take small steps towards your dream
too. I hope your dream comes true.
I miss my mom so
much. I cry every time I think of her. It may sound stupid but when I think
of you, I am really happy. Be healthy and well. We will be friends forever until
the Koreas unite. Goodbye.
From Wonhyuk Cho (14 years old)
How are you?
I worry when you
are sick. I am sorry I don’t listen to you and get on your nerves. I am doing
Please stop by at
“Durihana.” I will be able to see this letter when I am in the 6th grade. Mom, please don’t be sick and stay well.
I want to show you
a short writing. The four leaf clover means “luck,” therefore we look for
four leaf clovers, looking for luck. It is not easy to find a four leaf clover
among the many three leaf clovers. But do you know the meaning of a three leaf
clover? It is “happiness.” Happiness is all around us. Are you not missing
happiness looking for luck? Goodbye, Mom.
From Jusung Lee (11 years old)
enrolled him at Durihana and we have not been able to reach her since the next
day. 11 year old Jusung misses his mother and writes this letter to her as she
is on her search for luck.
To my late Dad,
Hi Dad, It’s me,
Yoonmee. Are you well up there? I am doing well here at Durihana International
School with my friends and learning the Words of God.
If you had been alive,
I would have told you about God. I was too young to remember but I miss the
time I used to live in Ryannggang Province with you and Mom.
Dad, are you reading
this? Are you listening to me? You used to really like me. Mom and I had a really
rough time after you passed away. Every time things turned bad, I hoped that
you would be alive, thinking that we would not have to go through so much.
It is especially
hard for Mom. She is working for my future.
I will study hard
for my future and for Mom. I will become God’s disciple and take good care
of Mom. I’ll try to fill your shoes.
Dad, I’ll never
forget you. Let us meet in heaven. I will pray for you. I love you, Dad!
Hwang (14 years old)
To my brother,
whom I’ve never met,
Hi, I’m Miyoun.
We have the same mother but different fathers, you are still my brother, so
I will call you brother. I hope you are doing well in North Korea. You must
hate Mom for leaving you. But Mom cries thinking of you every day here in South
Korea and cried even when we were back in China. She regrets spanking you for
eating part of the tofu that she wanted to put into the soup when you were five.
Mom is always worried,
whether you eat well and if your stepmother treats you well. She cries and cries
because she is here in South Korea without worries of eating. Every time I see
her like that, it breaks my heart. When she speaks highly of you, I would become
jealous and shout at her. I haven’t seen her in 4 weeks and miss her already.
I can’t imagine how much you miss her.
I hope you can come
to South Korea soon. When Mom was being hit by dad in China, she said it would
have helped if you had been there. I believe that we will meet one day. I hope
that day comes soon.
Miyoun (13 years old)
To my Mom in
Mom, it’s me, Seojung.
I’m now living in South Korea. I can now speak Korean, I have a lot of friends
and I am studying hard.
I really didn’t
like you when I was young. A lot of people told me that you deserted me. I thought
you were waiting for me in South Korea and even dreamed of you coming to look
for me. I lived without any motherly love. I came to South Korea on April 28
to meet you. I was looking forward to meeting you but once I heard that you
were working in Jeju and couldn’t come to meet me I was really disappointed.
But then I heard
from my aunt when I was in 7th grade that you were repatriated and that she
was not sure if you were alive or not. I was shocked and cried all night. I
was really sorry. I hated that I couldn’t understand you. You loved me so much
but I didn’t know that and I hated myself because of it.
Mom, I now wish that
even if you can’t make it to South Korea, I hope you stay alive and do not
starve to death. When we unite, I will go and look for you and bring you to
South Korea. I will be here at Durihana Church praying for the day when God
opens the doors.
Please wait for me.
I will go looking for you. Don’t worry. I love you, Mom.
for you in South Korea, Seojung (14 years old)
To my dearest
Oh Mom, I really
have so much to say. I don’t know where to begin.
I want to give you
a big hug and cry your name out loud. Even if I scream “Mom” I know you can’t
hear me and cannot answer back but I have cried out your name and cried a lot.
Mom, it’s so hard here. It used to be physically difficult farming with you
but now everything is mentally hard.
I escaped to China
in the winter of 2013 without telling you. I wondered who my dad was and I wandered
what it would be like to go to another country out of a country without freedom.
I was curious about the world out there and followed my (paternal) aunt. My
real purpose of escape was to send you some money for medicine since you were
taking injections, heart medicine, digestive medicine, and pain killers every
day. I guess you didn’t know that.
I wanted to free
you from the money you borrowed from next door Hyunho, from Ilshim’s, from
other places for medication. I wanted to send you the money I make in China
and therefore did not hesitate to go to China. I didn’t leave because I didn’t
Mom, when I met you
5 months after I was caught in China and imprisoned, you asked me why I had
left you. I told you that it was out of curiosity but I couldn’t be frank and
tell you that it was because of your medicines. I thought it would hurt you.
It really hurts me when you cry and when you are hurt.
Mom, it must have
been hard raising me without Dad. Why couldn’t I have been a better daughter
when I was with you and not regret the past? Why is it that I only now understand
the pain you were going through? Why did I not know how important you were when
you were next to me? I am now too aware of all of this.
When I first came
to South Korea, everything was wonderful. I didn’t have to wake up every day
at 4 or 5 am to carry 50-60 kg cucumbers with my bike in a cucumber field taller
than myself. I didn’t have to open the greenhouse doors every morning and water
or sow the fields. Hanawon (Settlement Support Center for North Korean Refugees)
would provide us with food and clothes. It was very nice.
Now I look back at
the times when I had lunch after working in the fields with Grandma and Aunt
and the meals I had with you after school. I miss those days and wish I could
go back. I didn’t live with you all the time but I would still like to go back
Mom, I am now at
Durihana in Seoul. My pastor had told me about God and I am living here with
my friends who also believe in God. We share our sorrows and pains and are happy
here. My friends think of my pain as theirs and I try to share their burden
too. We pray for each other. I am happy that I have met these friends.
Now that I can’t
meet you, I have realized something. I have realized how precious your love
is, something that I had taken for granted. No matter how much I love you, it
will not even be close to how much you loved and cared for me.
My biggest dream
and hope is that I can meet you gain. My pastor has told me that he will help
me find you. All that I can do right now is to pray for you. I want to become
a proud daughter. Please stay well and healthy until the day we unite.
I will pray for you
every single day, especially for your health and for the Koreas to unite soon.
I will pray that I want to meet my beloved mother soon. And I wish to tell you
something that I never had. I am very sorry and I love you very much.
Suryun (16 years old)
I want to tell you
I am sorry first. It has been about 5 years since we have last seen each other.
Although I am not sure if you are well there, I really miss you.
It was Parent’s
day some time ago; my friends were calling their fathers to tell them how grateful
they were. This made me sad. I had never told you this but I really wanted to
tell you “Dad, I will never forget how much you have done for our family. I
know you suffered. I love you, Dad. I love you.” It’s now too late since you
are so far away.
I won’t be able
to see you again but will you be able to see me? I really miss you and want
to ask you to stay but I can’t. We live in different worlds.
I miss the time when
I played with you in the park and when you took my side in front of Mom. I don’t
think I’ve ever done anything for you. I should have at least washed your feet.
I’ve always took things from you and have never been thankful for them. I am
I would like to hold
your warm hand again but you are no longer with me. I hope for your peace at
heart. I really miss you.
Gwang Han (18 years old)