North Korean Refugee Shares Story in Light of Historic Summit - NBC Southern California

North Korean Refugee Shares Story in Light of Historic Summit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    North Korean Refugee Shares Story for the First Time

    Grace Ahn, 77, fled North Korea and shares her experiences in light of Historic North Korea Summit. Christine Kim reports for NBC4 News at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 14, 2018

    (Published Thursday, June 14, 2018)

    A woman who fled North Korea decades ago shared her story of pain and hope after this week's historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. 

    As a child, Grace Ahn, fled her hometown in North Korea after her father was taken as a political prisoner and disappeared before the Korean War.

    Her mother never got to say goodbye to her father.

    "My mother cried and cried. I still remember," said Ahn, now 77.

    Ahn and her children headed to South Korea, walking for 20 days in the middle of winter and taking a boat for an additional three days.

    "Many people drowned but fortunately we survived to Inchon Harbor," Ahn said.

    Now — as a Korean American — Ahn has lived through three generations of North Korean leaders threatening nuclear attacks, and watched as President Donald Trump and Un sign a document Tuesday stating Pyongyang would work toward "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

    "Who doesn't want peace? Everybody want peace," Ahn said.

    Some in local Korean communities are skeptical.

    "They starve to death to have nuclear power," Karen Park, 65, said. "Now they give up and well what is that for so many years they starve to death for nothing?"

    Ahn's daughter, Ellen, who heads Korean community services in Buena Park says a lot more needs to be done. But this is a first step toward a peaceful peninsula.

    "It's been 60 years and there's a lot of pain and angst," Ellen said. "A lot of community sadness involved in those 60 years so we're very vested in what happens."

    Ahn continues to hold onto hope for reunification of the two Koreas during her lifetime so she can return to her hometown.