by Savanna Squires —
New York Times best-selling author Suki Kim, of Without You There is No Us, gave a talk Oct. 18 at the Louisville Free Public Library about her time spent in North Korea. The event was sponsored by U of L’s center for Asian Democracy and the World Affairs Council.
Kim is a South Korean freelance journalist who secretly went to North Korea five separate times.
She went in hopes of finding answers to questions about why North Korea is in the state it is and why such a corrupt dictatorship can last for over 70 years.
Kim’s first time in North Korea was in 2002. She went undercover as a Kim Jong-il loyalist and had to prove her dedication to leader through various tests and interviews.
Kim was very interested in North Korea, as her own family was separated years ago by the Korean War.
The last time Kim went to North Korea was in 2011. She was chosen to teach English to 270 North Korean young men. Kim lived at the University of Pyongyang for a little over five months.
She decided to leave when Kim Jong-il passed away and had more than 400 pages of her new book with her.
The “Great Leader” was a huge part of Suki’s presentation. She said every room, book, film and person must have some representation of the “Great Leader.”
She expressed disappointment with the “lies” that North Koreans are raised on.
Suki mentioned North Korea’s hatred for everything American and South Korean. She stated that hatred for America was the “foundation” of the North Korean regime.
U of L spokesman Mark Herbert asked Kim one thing that she wanted the audience and Americans to know about North Korea.
Kim wants people to know population of North Korea are human. They are not “robots” and they are just like everyone else.
Herbert also asked if Kim had any hope for the people of North Korea. She said she felt hopeless for them, and she felt it was a responsibility to the world to fix this problem.
“There’s a time limit — you can’t let a world like that continue for 70 years,” she said. She said the world needs to make a continued effort to stop the regime if they ever want to see change.
At the end of the talk, Kim was given a Louisville Slugger bat as a gift from World Affairs Council. It was her very first time in Kentucky.