“Tears Of Blood” By Yoo Young-Bok

The Global Digest (English) - - Contents - By Barry Welsh

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

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