London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Discussion: A Korean micro-reunification

A members-only event for the British Korean Society. If you haven’t joined yet, you really should, and this is another reason why. You can do so via the BKS website here. The event is kindly hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for North Korea.

A Korean micro-reunification: How two Koreans from opposite sides of the DMZ found common ground together

Date: Wednesday 19 October 2022, 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Houses of Parliament | Parliament Square | Westminster | London SW1A 0PW | [Map]

Tickets: Free | BKS member register here
More details on British Korean Society website via above link
Jihyun Park and Seh-lynn Chai

In this discussion, authors Jihyun Park and Seh-lynn Chai, respectively from North Korea and South Korea, will talk about what they shared and what differences they felt they had, while writing The Hard Road Out together. How did they overcome that sense of alienation? Could their encounter serve as a micro-reunification model going forward?

The Hard Road Out – One Woman’s Escape from North Korea – tells the story of an encounter between two women, a North Korean refugee Jihyun Park and a South Korean Seh-lynn Chai, both living in the United Kingdom. With a journey of mutual discovery as a backdrop, the book they write together describes how Jihyun Park fled from her native country to China, before finding an ultimate safe haven in the United Kingdom. The book has an unexpected second theme: how two women from radically different backgrounds manage to connect at a human level and grow close to one another. Through literature, they pave the way for a “micro-reunification”, a new approach towards peace.

The book has been described by David Lammy MP as “A gripping, suspenseful and cathartic memoir that tells a story of pain and perseverance and makes the moral case for asylum”. Lord Alton has commented: “Courage and sacrifice befall few. Jihyun is one of those few. Fascinating and shocking”.

The book, originally published in French as Deux Coreénnes, was published in English by Harper North earlier this year.

Jihyun Park was born in Chongjin, North Korea, in 1968. She experienced acute poverty, famine, illness and intimidation. She first escaped at the age of 29. After her second escape from North Korea, with the help of the UN, she was granted asylum seeker status in 2008 and moved to Bury, Greater Manchester, where she lives with her husband Kwang and three children. She has been outreach and project officer at the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea and is an online language tutor and human rights activist.

Seh-lynn Chai is South Korean. She divides her time between London, where she lives with her family, and Seoul, where her parents reside. She has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in French Literature from L’Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and an MBA from Columbia Business School. After a career in finance at JP Morgan, she is now an active campaigner for peace on the Korean Peninsula and for human rights and has served on the Korean government’s Peaceful Unification Advisory Council (PUAC).

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