Montana State University

North Korean refugees to speak April 22 at MSU

April 10, 2013

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

Three refugees from North Korea will share their true story of escape and survival at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 22, in Montana State University's Strand Union Building Ballroom A. The event is free and open to the public, doors open at 7 p.m.

Song hwa Han, Jinhye Jo and Eunhye Jo are from the Musan Province of North Korea, where hunger is the primary cause of death. The refugees' story epitomizes the reclusive country of North Korea, which has recently been making global news for threatening missile strikes and closing remaining ties between itself and South Korea, further elevating the tensions between the two countries.

Lack of food forced Han and her husband to travel to China to bring back supplies. They were caught, resulting in their torture and punishment at the hands of North Korea's Security Agency. Starving and homeless, the remaining Han family members embarked on a 100-mile trek to China on foot, seeking to leave North Korea for good. Out of a family of nine, only three remain in North Korea.

Against all the odds, Han and her young daughters completed their journey to China only to spend another 10 years struggling to evade capture and deportation back to their homeland. Eventually, they were put in touch with an aide organization that helped them to successfully immigrate to the United States in 2008. 

Their tales of escape and survival illustrate many humanitarian issues facing residents of North Korea and reveals a rare and fascinating account of life behind the country's veil of secrecy.

The Han family will participate in a Q&A session with the audience following the lecture.

To learn more about Han family, see the article: In North Korea, a brutal choice. For further event details, visit  and click on "Speakers," which includes a transcript of Jinhye Jo's testimony before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress.

This event is sponsored by ASMSU, The MSU Leadership Institute, I-Ho's Korean Grill, Gallatin Valley Furniture Carpet One and KGLT.

For more information call (406) 994-7275 or visit or or twitter @MSU_Leadership.

Carmen McSpadden,, (406) 994-7667