After Escaping North Korea, What Can Make the Transition Easier? After Escaping North Korea, What Can Make the Transition Easier?
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After Escaping North Korea, What Can Make the Transition Easier?
by Sharon Kong
This post is part of a series from students in the Master of Arts in Social Design program at Maryland Institute College of Art, which focuses on how design can reimagine solutions to world challenges. Over eight weeks, MASD students will each share part of their personal thesis journey. Follow the series at good.is/MASD.
The few that manage to make it to South Korea are but a small percentage of the hundreds living in hiding in China without citizenship, rights, or protection. They've given up everything to come.
When they do arrive, North Koreans find themselves at the bottom of the South Korean barrel. Their education and skills are not easily applied to South Korean society. South Koreans see North Koreans as foreigners, and North Koreans sometimes see South Koreans as discriminatory and judgmental.
What if there was some way to open the conversation about fundamental differences in the way Koreans think and act?
I am designing a mobile, interactive hub to house the stories of North Korean defectors. I hope to share the stories that have been told to me thus far in an engaging way, highlighting practical and relevant information—from how to order food, to how to manage money. It will be available through the one modern device that nearly all North Korean defectors have—phones.
More than anything, it will be a way to provide a different perspective on sensitive issues to bring focus on the people, not the politics. To see the faces of the North Korean people and see them as people, not as a threat. One person wrote to me anonymously, saying, 'I wish South Koreans could think of us [North and South Koreans] as one people. Like neighbors.' That is my wish as well.
Images courtesy of Sharon Kong.