Songmi Han is a North Korean defector who survived extreme poverty, oppression, and abandonment.
The arc of Han’s life was dictated by two dramatic escapes made by her mother. The first escape was from Han’s abusive father, leaving Han and her mother homeless and in near fatal starvation. Then in 2005, Han’s mother escaped to South Korea. Abandoned and forced to perform manual labour to survive, young Han would receive a letter from her mother only two years later.
In exile, Han’s mother sought to bring her daughter to safety and made the necessary arrangements for her to be smuggled. However, without knowledge of the freedom outside North Korea, Han refused her mother’s efforts. It would take three attempts for Han to eventually agree to escape North Korea. She would reunite with her mother in South Korea after six years apart.
Suffering from the traumas of her childhood in North Korea and struggling to adjust to her new home, Han remained silent for a decade before co-authoring her memoir Greenlight to Freedom: A North Korean Daughter’s Search for Her Mother and Herself.
Currently studying social welfare at college, Han is committed to speaking on the horrors of life in North Korea as a Keynote Speaker and North Korean Refugee Author Fellow at the Seoul-based non-profit Freedom Speakers International (FSI).