As a North Korean refugee in China, So Young knew she’d be sent back to North Korea—and face brutal consequences. And yet: It was the friends at the Bible study that made it possible for So Young to endure the labor camp she was about to face.
Things were different then
It can be easy to assume God doesn’t start His care over us until we trust in Jesus. But in reality, His care and guidance were all part of the gentle leading that brought us to Christ. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
This is the story of So Young*—God’s hand in her life, even though she’s not sure why. .
So Young’s family lived in North Korea, not far from the Chinese border. She grew up in the brutal famine of the 1990s. There was hardship, hunger and death. “In my area we even ran out of coffins,” she said.
The family became dependent on food from Chinese relatives, but eventually they stopped giving because the family came too often. As the crisis worsened, So Young and a cousin decided to escape to China, illegally crossing the Tomen River. “My cousin couldn’t swim, and held me down. Both of us were screaming loudly. Fortunately, a Chinese fisherman heard us, threw a net and pulled us ashore.”
Many North Korean women are forced to marry in China. So Young was lucky; she found a man she liked and married him voluntarily. Together, they had a son and lived in China for 15 years.
“Sometimes I went back to North Korea,” she said. “I was even arrested once, but because back then they weren’t very strict with defectors, they released me to return to my husband and son in China.”