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January 04, 2007

My North Korea

North Korea is one of the most secretive places on earth. Defectors from the country speak of torture and starvation. 

Amnesty International reports that human right abuses there are almost inconceivable, including torture, arbitrary detention and imprisonment, inhumane prison conditions, and the near-total suppression of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and movement.

Today Dick talks to Roy Kim. Roy grew up in North Korea during the Korean War. When rumors circulated in his hometown that the United Nations planned to drop an atomic bomb, Roy fled the country with his father.

My mother said: "If we leave together, we will all die. So why don't you leave, only men. So [the] Kim's lineage will maintain."

- Roy Kim


Roy and his father fled south. Roy became separated from his dad and landed on the streets near Seoul as a shoeshine boy, serving American GIs. There he met one serviceman who would change his life forever. 

Roy also talks about his passionate desire to return to North Korea to see his mother and sisters again. That quest took decades to realize, and by the time it happened, his mother had passed away. But the reunion with his surviving sisters was unforgettable. Roy has been back to North Korea more than fifteen times since 1989.


Song heard in today's show: "Shoe Shine Boy" by Count Basie and the Kansas City 7 and Roger Williams, for the album, Count Basie and the Kansas City 7.

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