EH: Were you shocked by South Korea when you first saw it?
Younghee: It wasn’t shocking for me, actually! During my time in China, I knew South Korea had so many buildings and cars, so I expected this a little. I learned these things from the Korean dramas I watched and the books that I read in China.
EH: When you first arrived in South Korea, what was the most difficult situation for you to handle?
Younghee: For me, my North Korean accent caused me a lot of stress.* But the most difficult thing, besides hiding my accent, was to gain the trust of South Koreans. I think the way to get people’s trust is to increase my personal abilities and prove that I am sincere. Now I don’t have to hide my accent, or the fact that I’m from North Korea, because the people I work with believe in me and don’t care about my past.
EH: You’ve lived in South Korea for over ten years now. Do you feel completely adjusted?
Younghee: These days, I work at an accounting firm. My boss tells me that I look well-adjusted, but sometimes I still face difficulties with South Korean life. But now, after many years of living here with the support of the government, volunteers, and my own hard work, I learned how to solve the difficult situations. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have in South Korea!
*After more than 60 years of division, North and South Korea have developed fairly distinct accents. The North Korean accent easily marks defectors as foreigners.
These responses were written entirely by Younghee. Minor edits were made for clarity.