Friday, July 28, 2006

A Tale of North Korean Hunger and Survival

One hears of “hunger” and “starvation”, but these are just words until you hear it described from a child’s point of view, a child refugee in China:

My name is Lim Chol and my sister is Lim So-yon. I am 10 years old and she is eight. We were born in a small coal-mining town [in North Korea].

My parents were desperate to find food. They already had sold everything they had to buy corn. My mother roamed around, collecting edible grass in order to make soup with corn flour. She served one bowl of that soup to my father, sister and me, but took only half a bowl for herself.

One day, my father decided to go to Hwanghae Province to get corn from his relatives. He asked us to take good care of mother and we asked him to bring home lots of rice and corn. That was the last time we saw him.

[As my mother got weaker], I walked four kilometers to the old coal mine to get some coal and went to the mountain to get some edible grass and put them in the kitchen. My mother could barely stand up to boil the water to make soup with the grass. She was so weak she couldn’t lift the bar by herself to grind the grass in the mortar. I had to assist her to hold the bar and pound the grass. She wept and murmured, as tears streamed down her face. “Please forgive me for making you suffer like this,” she said.

In front of my mother, my eyes welled with tears, but I never made any sound. We supported our lives with the grass paste mixed with our tears for three months. Everyday we had only two meals instead of three. My sister sat next to mother and put a cold compress on her feverish face. But she passed away after suffering for three months.

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