One day, her mother told her she had somewhere to go. “She never came back,” Yoon Hee said.
Yoon Hee had no choice but to live alone in North Korea. So she did what many abandoned North Korean children do — living on the streets, nearly freezing to death in the winters, begging for mercy, plucking grass for food and crying so hard at night only the pain in her face could stifle her tears.
Yoon Hee stayed in the same neighborhood as her mother in the city of Hyesan, hoping they could live together again.
“I sometimes ran into her on the streets,” Yoon Hee said, “but I couldn’t ever get a warm feeling from her.”
One time when they met, Yoon Hee said, “she told me she was already having a hard time living by herself, so she couldn’t live with me.”
But Yoon Hee was undeterred.
“I had a hope.”