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An Afternoon in Daejeon with the “Save the Daughter of Tongyeong” Trekkers

December 5, 2011

“I was involved in the student movement as a leftist Juche ideology supporter in 1987, the time when Shin Suk Ja and her daughters first went to a political prison camp. I sided with the people who were giving them that pain.

So, because of that debt I owe to them I planned this trek. As a citizen just like Shin Suk Ja and her daughters, and also as a human being, I wanted to share in their pain.”

– Choi Hong Jae, leader of the Tongyeong Trek (from “Nothing Compared to Their Suffering,” Daily NK, 2011-11-18)

On Saturday, December 3, we took the train from Seoul down to Daejeon to join the “Save the Daughter of Tongyeong” trek for an afternoon. The core group had started two weeks earlier in the town of Tongyeong, which is on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. Their mission is to walk to Imjingak next to the DMZ (ie, the northern border of South Korea) and they hope that by doing so, they will be able to raise awareness in South Korean society of the plight of Shin Suk Ja, who was born in Tongyeong (and hence often referred to as the “Daughter of Tongyeong”), but has been imprisoned in North Korea for the last 25 years along with her two daughters. The trek has been organized by a coalition of different civic and North Korean human rights groups in Seoul.

The total trip will span 1700 ri (680 km) and take them through Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Seoul and many other cities along the way. The general pattern each day is to walk several hours in the morning, hold an awareness event at noon – preferably at a city hall or other public space – and then walk all afternoon. The average day is about 30 km, which is 7-8 hours of walking, but the longest single day was Sunday, December 4, when they covered 47 kilometers!


The first several photos are of the event at Daejeon Station at noon and the rest were taken during the next four hours as we walked north out of the city. Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Media Coverage

December 3 in Daejeon:

Cross-country trek to free NK detainee nears Seoul
Korea Times


Trek for Tongyeong, Day 3
Daily NK

Nothing Compared to Their Suffering
Daily NK

Who is the Daughter of Tongyeong?

Learn more about the the Daughter of Tongyeong.

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