You don't just have bad memories there. There are also good memories, friends, scents of my home, and above all, my family.
My childhood in North Korea wasn't easy and abundant, but I grew up with good memories living near the coast. I used to dive in the ocean for clams and seaweed, and I cherished the view of sunset in the sea with sailing boats. Flowers like cherry blossoms and azelea used to be in full bloom during their seasons.
After I became an adult, I had a chance to meet Chinese people at work.
While interacting with them, I was informed about the foreign world and got to know how our people are viewed as isolated and marginalized in the global society. Treatment at work was harsh, and I desperately wanted to experience the outside world in my lifetime.
I made a bold attempt to defect from North Korea with the help of Chinese friends. Since there were not many defectors from my hometown, I didn't expect it to be this much risk-taking. Everything was unpredictable - being chased by the Chinese police, getting caught, passing through mountains till my feet was smudged with scars and blood. Every defection is a miracle - and I was very fortunate to be let off by the Chinese police due to my ability to speak Chinese.
Coming to South Korea absolutely alone with no friends or family, settling in this whole different world is tough and lonely. I miss my family very much and sometimes dream sad, good, or frightening dreams about them. Although circumstances are tough, I will also cherish my family-like friends here in South Korea and work hard to achieve my dreams of running my own restaurant that can feel like a warm home to many others.