After his father died in one of the many North Korean famines and his mother escaped to China, Joseph Kim was left to live on the streets begging for help in the “people’s paradise” of North Korea.
At 16 years old, an American charity helped him escape and move to the United States. To say it’s been a culture shock is a drastic understatement.
Asked in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) what he was “most surprised to learn about the world once [he] left North Korea”, most people expect his answer to include the fast pace of life, the prevalence of fast food, or the sheer volume of technology in the hands of people.
But Joseph’s answer was much more simple, and much more heartfelt.
“Coming to America, probably the biggest shocking moment was how everyone was living different lives,” he said.
“I guess one thing would be, for example, going to public parks with family, refreshments and barbecues, laying on the ground – I think that was something I never really imagined. I never had that in North Korea. We never had those kind of things.”
Asked what he missed about North Korea
“I definitely miss some things. I do miss my friends, and also my hometown, my hometown has so many memories,” he said.
“It’s a place that I learned how to swim in the river there, there were mountains we climbed for fun, and one thing I do really miss is the pear tree from my backyard.”