Unbreakable Spirit: A North Korean Refugee's Journey to Freedom
Middle School students at Barnesville had the privilege and honor to hear from Grace Jo, a key member of the Dissident Project. Grace Jo was born in North Korea, a place where she almost starved to death as a child. Two of Grace’s brothers died of starvation. Grace’s father was tortured and starved to death, he passed away when North Korean agents transferred him from a detention center to a jail, and his “crime” was that he left his country in search of food for his family. One of Grace’s older sisters went to China to find food for her family but went missing and was probably sold into human trafficking. Grace was repatriated twice to North Korea by the Chinese government, and suffered imprisonment after she was repatriated. Grace’s mother and one of Grace’s sisters were repatriated four times and suffered torture after repatriation. In 2006 Pastor Philip Buck bribed North Korean agents to let Grace and her two remaining family members escape North Korea. In 2008, the UNHCR rescued Grace and her family from China and enabled them to enter the United States of America as legal refugees. Grace is one of 370 refugees from North Korea who have settled in the U.S. In 2013, Grace became a U.S. citizen. Alongside her family, she has protested the forced repatriation of North Korean escapees hiding out in China. Through her sharing of her personal experiences and stories, students were made aware first-hand what it is like to live in an authoritarian state like North Korea. With many thoughtful questions asked, the character of our students shined.