I used to be a very polite little kid with nothing to fear. I had an enviable childhood with my father who was a university professor and mother who was very devoted to their children. But my mother, whom I thought would be with me forever, died when I was 12 years old. Because I was unable to accept the absence of my mother at a young age, I developed aphasia. Over time, I recovered, but did not go back to school, instead went to the mountains to dig up and sell medicinal herbs to raise money for my business.
I purchased grain cheap in the fall with the money I made as business funds, and made a lot of money the following spring by selling it at a high price. But after a while, I suddenly felt like a money-making machine, and I could no longer find meaning in what I did.
So I crossed the Tumen River to China to see a bigger world, and I studied Chinese and did business at the same time. My identity in China was unclear, so I came to Korea with the thought of going to a place where I could live a safe life.
I studied at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and while doing human rights activities for North Korea, I found the greatest joy from making North Korean tofu rice and sharing it with people. I started Jessi kitchen in 2020 with the intention of helping people of Korea understand one another better and connecting them through food, which I not only enjoy making but also good at.
There is something I want to change through 'Jessi kitchen'. Although many North Korean defectors have settled in South Korea, I feel that their attitude towards North Korean defectors is still the same as before. I think we, the progressive people, should change this. Thinking that the person who could bring change can start with myself, I merely hope the South Koreans who I get to meet will change their attitude toward North Korean defectors.
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