Hyeonseo left North Korea as a teenager and started a new life in China, a country that had always fascinated her growing up as she observed the stark contrast between the bright Chinese city lights and her dimly lit hometown.
She quickly learned, however, that life as a North Korean refugee in China was fraught with danger. After narrowly escaping repatriation, she eventually decided to experience life in South Korea.
Once again Hyeonseo initially struggled to adjust to her new environment, but by studying hard and rapidly learning English she has been able to engage people from around the world in her quest to help North Korean refugees and raise awareness about North Korean human rights issues.
North Korean refugees in China, South Korea and elsewhere face a plethora of problems, including human rights violations, social isolation, financial woes and insufficient opportunities to advance themselves. By raising awareness of these issues and connecting North Korean refugees with supportive members of the international community, we can all make a real difference.
Ultimately, Hyeonseo hopes to act as a bridge between North and South Koreans upon eventual reunification, which she firmly believes will happen in her lifetime.