Charles Ryu (@freshprinceofpyongyang) escaped from North Korea — twice — and now works with Liberty in North Korea to fight for the rights and freedom of those who have been left behind. This is part one of a two-part episode. Check out part two here!
What We Discuss with Charles Ryu:
- A glimpse of the rampant corruption ruling the daily lives of average North Koreans.
- Being homeless anywhere at any age is terrible. But what’s it like being a homeless preteen in North Korea in the middle of winter?
- How Charles escaped from North Korea to China as a young teenager and what he got a taste of for the first time ever.
- What led to Charles being jailed in China, deported back to North Korea, and sent to a forced labor camp for nine months.
- How working in a coal mine for a paycheck of rice was a step up for Charles, even though he had to lie about his age to get the job.
- And much more…
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As hard as we may try, our efforts to live with an attitude of gratitude sometimes get derailed when life throws unforeseen obstacles in our path. But as unfair as we may deem our current situation, a fresh perspective serves to remind us that no matter how bad we think we have it today, somebody, somewhere has it way worse. We believe episode 84 may be just the fresh perspective the doctor ordered.
Charles Ryu of Liberty in North Korea escaped from North Korea, was deported back and sentenced to a forced labor camp, worked in a coal mine, and then escaped North Korea again by the time he was 17. He now lives in the US fighting for the rights of those he left behind. Gabriel Mizrahi, no stranger to North Korea himself, joins us. This is part one of a two-part episode. Check out part two here! Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
This isn’t our typical show, but it’s one that will probably open a few eyes as to what life is really like in North Korea and why people like today’s guest — Charles Ryu of Liberty in North Korea — are willing to risk their lives to escape once they discover there’s a much different world on the other side of the border.
Joining us is Gabriel Mizrahi who, along with Jordan, has been to North Korea — aka the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — as a curiosity seeker on multiple occasions. Western visitors allowed into the country only get to see a carefully curated, state-sanctioned version of what’s going on there, but as you’ll hear in the words of someone who’s experienced perhaps the worst it has to offer, the official story differs from the shocking reality.
Such a moving story. I happened to be eating a cob of corn while listening and counted off 150 pieces of corn, Charles Ryu's rations in the labour camp. It made me weep and pray for him and those who are still suffering under this evil regime. pic.twitter.com/Q4eWjghKKp
— Loreli (@lorelicockram) August 27, 2018
What you might find most surprising is that Charles hasn’t been diminished by his ordeals, but strengthened with resolve to work toward a free and open North Korea that enjoys a true connection with the rest of the world. There’s not an ounce of bitterness in Charles’ voice as he relays what he’s endured under an oppressive regime most of us would consider nightmarish in scope. There’s no resentment in his demeanor against those who have committed wrongs against him, just a sincere belief that North Korea’s future will be brighter than its shadowy present thanks to the efforts of those committed to catalyzing change.
Note: what began as a standard interview became a three-hour conversation before anyone realized it, so this is part one of a two-part episode. Check out part two here!
THANKS, CHARLES RYU!
If you enjoyed this session with Charles Ryu, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Instagram:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].
Resources from This Episode:
- Liberty in North Korea
- Charles Ryu at Instagram
- Inside the World of James Bond
- Bad Boys
- Life under Kim Jong Un by Anna Fifield, The Washington Post
- North Koreans Dare to Protest as Devaluation Wipes out Savings by David McNeill, The Independent