The family I lost in North Korea and the family I gained

Hope is personal. Hope is something that no one can give to you. You have to choose to believe in hope. You have to make it yourself. In North Korea, I made it myself. Hope brought me to America. But in America, I didn’t know what to do, because I had this overwhelming freedom. My foster father at that dinner gave me a direction, and he motivated me and gave me a purpose to live in America.

I did not come here by myself. I had hope, but hope by itself is not enough. Many people helped me along the way to get here. North Koreans are fighting hard to survive. They have to force themselves to survive, have hope to survive, but they cannot make it without help.

This is my message to you. Have hope for yourself, but also help each other. Life can be hard for everyone, wherever you live. My foster father didn’t intend to change my life. In the same way, you may also change someone’s life with even the smallest act of love. A piece of bread can satisfy your hunger,and having the hope will bring you bread to keep you alive. But I confidently believe that your act of love and caring can also save another Joseph’s life and change thousands of other Josephs who are still having hope to survive.”


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