The nationwide trek to proclaim ‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong!’ is already in its third day and there are still no signs of fatigue on the faces of the twenty participants. The atmosphere is jolly, with everyone going to great lengths to cheer one another on.
There are more than 600km remaining though, so it is still too early to let guards down. At this early stage, with spirits still high, Daily NK turned to assess the determined leaders of this challenging journey.
[imText1]First, the leader of the ‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong!’ movement, Choi Hong Jae
“The first 18km walk was not too long so it was okay. My colleagues seemed to be walking better than me. I want to take part in this march with a sense of responsibility.
I was involved in the student movement as a leftist Juche ideology supporter in 1987, the time when Shin Suk Ja and her daughters first went to a political prison camp. I sided with the people who were giving them that pain.
So, because of that debt I owe to them I planned this trek. As a citizen just like Shin Suk Ja and her daughters, and also as a human being, I wanted to share in their pain.”
‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong!’ accountant and administrator Kwon Yong Il
“I have three daughters and if I had been in the same shoes as Dr. Oh Kil Nam, I would not have hesitated to go to North Korea. Of course, I would also have taken my family with me.
[imText2]I took time off from work to take part in this march. As an administrator I want the participants not to hesitate to tell me if anything goes wrong. I will also fully engage in the march with the determination to deliver one postcard every step of the way.”
‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong!’ participant and independent filmmaker Choi Gong Jae
“I initiated the idea of a trek to ‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong’. The first idea was for a couple of people to walk north from Tongyeong handing out postcards and tying yellow handkerchiefs. I never knew the event would become this big.
This activism is misinterpreted as being political; however, if people watch the next 23 days carefully they will find it is for human rights. As an independent film director I would like to direct a film with content related to North Korean human rights. I want to see this human rights issue from a cultural perspective.
‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong!’ participant and private Chinese language school owner Kuk Jung Kil
“Personally, I meet a lot of North Koreans on my monthly visits to China. North Korean women defectors work as karaoke helpers in China and it gives me heartache to see that. I hope that this trek will offer a good opportunity to inform more people about the seriousness of the North Korean human rights situation.”
‘Rescue the Daughter of TongYong!’ participant and environmental assessor Choi Seong Woo
“I came into contact with the unfortunate story of Shin Suk Ja and her daughters trapped in a political prison camp. At the same time, I would like to see all the mountains and streams of our country. I will try very hard to digest both.”
‘Rescue the Daughter of TongYong!’ participant and ‘Byte’ student newspaper editor Kim Bang Hyun
“Shin Suk Ja and the abductees issue should be of great concern to college students. As editor of college newspaper ‘Byte’ I decided to join this march to raise awareness among students. ‘Rescue the Daughter of Tongyeong!’ offers an opportunity for college students to ponder on these issues.”
‘Rescue the Daughter of TongYong!’ participant and college student Park Chan Kil
“I felt very unproductive because I have almost graduated. One of my seniors suggested I attend this event and I thought I needed an opportunity to think things over, and so here I am.”