Suki Kim, a South Korean born writer turned investigative reporter and naturalized American citizen wondered from a young age what it was like to live in North Korea.
She was curious about this country once united to her own, and why it was so secretive and shrouded in mystery.
Photo Credit: YouTube.com
Questions stayed with her well after she emigrated to the U.S. with her parents in 1983, until an opportunity to do something about it presented itself nearly twenty years later. Suki’s first insight into North Korea came as a hired journalist living in New York. Two separate writing assignments took her to North Korea and the wheels were set in motion for her own fact-finding mission when she visited a third time on her own.
Suki went undercover for six months as an English teacher in 2011. The experience and her resulting book caused a tsunami of controversy in Suki’s tell-all book, Without You There Is No Us. In it, she wrote:
“Sometimes the longer you are inside a prison, the harder it is to fathom what is possible beyond its walls.”
Join us this week as WomanScape examines a very sensitive topic – what it’s like to travel fearlessly into another country at great personal risk. Alexandria Meinecke tackles it not so much from a political perspective but from the vantage of one woman’s journey to discover the truth.
Suki describes the prison she sees when she’s there – an ideological, political and physical cell for the people, many of whom don’t even realize it. Suki says they are kept in the dark and fed mistruths about the outside world.
This kind of ignorance is never acceptable if you believe in a world of freedom and a country’s duty to share the truth.
That’s why today’s final image presents (an opportunity for personal reflection before Meinecke’s Wednesday feature. The image is taken from Artnews.com and shows a woman looking out behind bars. Or, is it a woman looking from the inside out? Perspective is everything.
The painting appeared on a wall in Houston and was done by Banksy, a global phenom in the graffiti art world. He’s an anonymous British street artist and political activist who paid tribute to jailed Turkish artist, Zehra Doğan. Zehra was arrested in 2016 but recently released after serving three years for painting a real photograph of the “wrecked Kurdish town of Nusaybin destroyed by Turkish security forces.”
Banksy honors Zehra’s willingness to paint the truth and his belief in the universality of artistic freedom. Turkish authorities claimed Zehar’s reproduction was an act of propaganda stemming from her membership in an anti-government group.
Whatever your beliefs about Suki Kim’s undercoverage event, or your politics on a national or international level, what matters is that we continue to have meaningful discussions despite censored news. And these discussions should always be underscored by respect and a willingness to learn from each other.