Kim Ryon Hui have been separated from her family since 2011 when she left her home in Pyongyang for visiting her cousin living China, where she wanted to treat a serious medical condition. Once in China, she realized that medical treatments weren’t free of charge, as that she was used to when she lived in Pyongyang. With her serious medical condition she had to start working in a restaurant in China in order to make enough money for her treatment, but she never made enough money. One day, a trafficker told her that she could go to South Korea for work where she would earn a lot of money and she was told that she wouldn’t have to work for no more than two months to afford the treatment. At first she hesitated, but as she would never make enough money in China she decided to go.
On her way to South Korea she regretted her decision, but the trafficker, who had her passport, refused to give it back to her and Kim Ryon Hui was forced to go to South Korea, where she is detained until this day. In the desperation to reunite with her daughter, Ri Gyon Gum, and her husband, as well as her ageing parents, she turned herself in to the South Korean police where she told them that she was a spy from the North and she hoped that the South Korean authorities would then deport her home to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
On the 7th of March, she went to the Vietnamese embassy in Seoul and applied for political asylum, but due to pressure from the South Korean government, she was forced to leave the grounds of the embassy, even though she told the embassy officials that she wanted to stay there until they granted her asylum, but they insisted that she had to wait outside until the Vietnamese government made a decision.
As every South Korean citizen, Kim Ryon Hui is not allowed to go to the DPRK, but after her attempt to be deported she was sentenced to two years in prison and as a convicted criminal, any travel outside South Korea is legally impossible. Her only crime was that she wanted to go home and reunite with her family that she haven’t seen for all these years. As the years goes by Kim Ryon Hui’s husband and daughter is still waiting for her to come back home and have her in their arms, and her ageing parents would love to see their daughter again, before it’s too late.