north korean refugee family's journey ends in tragedy

This is a really sad story out of New York on the Seo family, four refugees from North Korea. After escaping one of the most oppressive, isolated nations in the world, and settling in the United States a year and a half ago, their journey ended in tragedy -- according to police, an apparent murder-suicide: A Refugee Family's Fight for Happiness Ends in Tragedy.
On Saturday, June 18th, police found the body of Won Kyung Seo hanging in the upstairs apartment of his family's home on South Clinton Avenue. His wife Young Hwa Kim, had fatal stab wounds. One of their sons found their bodies and police say it was an apparent murder-suicide.

Over the weekend, I was assigned to cover the story on their deaths and as soon as I heard the couple was North Korean, I was shocked.

As a daughter of two South Korean immigrants, I grew up knowing how North Korea was ruled under a repressive regime and I also knew that trying to escape North Korea was a death sentence.

The border between North and South Korea (the Demilitarized Zone) is heavily guarded by North Korean, South Korean and American soldiers. Those who flee North Korea choose to do so by going through the North Korean-Chinese border. According to the United States Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, if North Koreans are caught trying to escape, they're often shot on site. If they're lucky to make it into China and then get caught, they're sent back to North Korea and put in labor camps or executed.

Mr. Seo attended Rochester Onnuri Church and according to Pastor Jin Kyu Kim, Mr. Seo's two sons, both in their twenties, escaped to China first. Mr. Seo and his wife followed soon after. The family reunited and was able to get refugee status and move to the United States.

As I found out more and more about the Seos, I couldn't help but think "Why?" They had made it so far and escaped a country with one of the most brutal totalitarian governments. They had a chance for a new life so why did it have to end this way?
I can't imagine surviving the harrowing hell of escaping North Korea, and making it all the way to United States, only to lose all hope and believing this could be the only way out. Read the rest of the story here. And more here: Possible Murder Suicide on South Clinton Avenue.

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