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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Kim Seong Min

Interviewed June 23, 2024

My name is Kim Seong Min. I was born in North Korea, and I currently live in the Republic of Korea [South Korea].

When I was living in North Korea, I thought that freedom meant being free from the oppression I was living under. This is why I decided to escape the country.

Having lived in South Korea for many years, I feel that that definition of freedom is too simplistic. I now feel that freedom is a combination of human rights and one’s responsibility towards such human rights.

The concept of freedom for North Koreans, South Koreans, and Americans is not all that different. Like I mentioned before, many North Korean defectors think of freedom as being free from the oppression they were under or being free from every inconvenience.

But there are some legal aspects to be considered. One might think of freedom as acting or behaving in any way you want but I feel that freedom also ensures legal and moral responsibilities. I think abiding by these responsibilities is a very important component of the concept of freedom.

On a basic level, freedom is something that is given to every human being. The rights and happiness that people have are also included in the idea of freedom. In that sense, I think that all human beings are equal in that they are given the right to freedom.

This may not be the case for people like me who were born in North Korea. The moment you are born in North Korea, you are deprived of freedom. I actually wrote a poem about it. I think freedom is a fundamental human right, but if you do not preserve it then someone else can take it away.