China Elevator Stories

“He had to suffer discrimination in North Korea”

I chat with my Chinese father-in-law.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


My father-in-law tells me about one of his former co-workers: “He’s from the northern part of North Korea. At first he didn’t understand anything we said. He would always stare at us without saying anything. At that time, we didn’t know he didn’t speak Chinese, so we thought it weird that he always just stared at us. Today, his Chinese is as good as ours. He speaks in the local dialect and you wouldn’t know that he’s not from here. He brought his whole family to Northeast China.”

I’m curious and ask him: “When did he come to China?”
He tells me: “He’s over 50 years old now, it must have been about 30 years ago.”
“Does he have Chinese citizenship?”
He does. He’s Han Chinese. He and his family had to suffer discrimination in North Korea. For example, he wasn’t allowed to get a driver’s license and drive a car, just because he was Han Chinese.”
“Was he born in North Korea?”
“He was. He was a North Korean citizen at birth. But the government discriminated against people who weren’t ethnic Koreans, so he fled across the Yalu river to China.”

Have you ever heard a similar story?