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Born in Pyongyang, North Korea |

Jina grew up in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, until after her father was reported for criticizing the government and her family was forced to move outside of the city centre. Due to the poverty there, Jina’s mother encouraged her to leave, saying it was the only way she could have a future. With help from a friend’s aunt, and money given to her by her mother, the plan was set into motion. Jina left her identification with her family, so that if questioned about his disappearance, the family could say she was killed in a car crash. She then braved the freezing December waters and swam across the border to China. Through a Korean Church in China she met her husband and together they decided to go to Canada. Despite having no money or ID, she was given a Chinese passport and a flight.

“I was very grateful, but I could not understand why a stranger would help me…If they ever discovered that I had actually escaped, my family would be in trouble.”

Jina feels safe in Toronto and likes the social services as well as the equal opportunity for work regardless of age or gender. She works as an aesthetician at a spa, but dreams of one day being a nurse.

Toronto as Home

There is a little park near the North York Civic Centre that Jina likes going to because it allows her to feel safe and relaxed. She loves the fresh air, the trees, and observing people sitting, reading or enjoying the outdoors. Seeing people in the park makes her think that people don’t necessarily need a lot of money or possessions to enjoy life. The park also reminds Jina of home and of her mother and sometimes she goes to the park to cry.

Connection with the Past

Jina left North Korea wearing a necklace passed down from her grandmother to her mother, and then given to her. Sadly it was lost during her escape. Now that she is in Canada she can wear whatever she wants and whenever she wears something that her mother would not allow in North Korea, like this purse, she is reminded of her.

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