“Tears Of Blood” By Yoo Young-Bok
A book review: ‘Tears of Blood’ tells the remarkable story of Young-Bok Yoo, the eldest son of a family torn apart in the aftermath of the Korean War. Mr. Yoo was separated from his father and sister for most of his adult life. He was finally reunited with them in South Korea after almost 50 years, when in 2000 he escaped from North Korea as a 70 year old man.
Tear of Blood is a moving eyewitness account that takes the reader inside the painful history of North and South Korea in the second half of the 20th century. Mr. Yoo’s life story embodies the human cost of the division of Korea after the Korean War.
In simple, spare yet honest language he carefully details the many abuses he suffered as a Prisoner of War for 50 years inside North Korea. Alongside approximately 60,000 other South Korean Prisoners of War he was denied repatriation, exploited as a labourer, constantly monitored, forced to endure self criticism sessions, suffered from tuberculosis and famine. Even amidst the awful conditions he describes what shines through is his overwhelming humanity and commitment to his family and loved ones. The title ‘Tears of Blood’ is a Korean saying used when witnessing the pain of loved ones. His story is ultimately a moving testament to the human capacity for hope; it reveals how a human life can be shaped by the historical forces beyond our control.
There is a second inspiring, hopeful story behind this clear and precise English translation. The translator Paul T. Kim is a 16 year old Korean-American high school student. He was on holiday in Seoul visiting his grandparents when he was introduced to Mr. Yoo’s Korean language autobiography by his grandmother.
In the introduction he describes how he felt it must be translated for an international audience. He was correct. This is a story that needs to be heard. If you are interested in the history of Korea or the history of human rights then this is an essential text that deserves to be read by many people.
Barry Welsh used to serve as an Associate Editor for the Global Digest magazine. He is from Scotland.
Imjingak on the borader fence of South-North Koreas
Young-Bok Yoo, a Prisoner of War