The International Herald Tribune publishes today a heartbreaking piece by Norimitsu Onishi, who narrates the melancholy life of a North Korean defector who now lives on the outskirts of Seoul.
Onishi tells us that Lee Chan is barely coping with the oppressive stress of feeling like an outsider in South Korea, despite the fact that he toiled nearly half his life to get there. Chan’s accent and vocabulary give him away as a Northerner immediately, making some Southerners wary, and he has come to identify more with expatriates living in Korea than fellow Koreans. Though no longer surrounded by barbed-wire fences, it seems Chan’s lonely aparment has become his personal prison.
This microcosmic look at the alienation of one man perhaps has larger implications for future hopes of reunification. Onishi’s article is absolutely stellar, though crushing, and paints a blue portrait of a man who cannot look back.
But don’t take my word for it, have a read.