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“All I have of my family is only memory”

  • Published in Local

Local woman recounts the harrowing journey from North Korea to living in Northern Montgomery County

Grace Jo 1Grace Jo recounts her life growing up in the oppressive regime of North Korea before moving to the United States. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER The longest Grace Jo ever went without food was 10 days when she was just a child. Without energy, no longer suffering from hunger pangs and with a high fever, she felt certain death was near. All she had consumed for the past nine days was cold water from a nearby river near her home in North Korea.

Finally, her parents returned from their illegal escape into China to find food for their six children.

Earlier, when Jo was five-and-a-half years old, her grandmother happened upon five newborn mice. She grilled them for Jo and her siblings, helping them survive through another bout of hunger while their parents continually crossed into China to bring back whatever food they could.

“How can I explain hunger?” said the Montgomery College student and Germantown resident. “I lived in a house made of wood. In the winter, the wind blew through the house” through all the holes, she said. “We were really cold and constantly hungry, and sometimes we didn’t have the energy to get the wood” to make a fire for warmth and cooking, she said.

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