There are also people living here


By Rachel Jung

Little is known about North Korea, often stated as ‘one of the most isolated countries in the world’. Concealed by the stereotypical images of North Korea like new clear bombs or the dictator, people from outside often neglect that it is also a place where ‘people’ live their everyday lives.

North Korean refugees constantly have to fight through the prejudice image of the country that is also drawn to each individual. People often focus on the tragic, dramatic, shocking human traffickings the North Korean refugees went through, neglecting the diversity of North Korean culture and society. Their lives are viewed into a singular, pungent image, where it erase their autogenous power within their culture.

The title “There are also people living there” was driven from a sentence in an interview I had undertaken with one of the North Korean refugees.

This project aimed to focus on the lives of North Koreans, viewing the society through its food culture. Through my essay I visualized actions of making, eating, and quickly wrapping up a North Korean street food named ‘fried tofu rice’ often sold in Jangmadangs ( illegal markets ), showing anxiety within these actions. This reveals the social crisis of North Korea when the country stopped food rationing in the 1990s and people had to form own markets to survive.

Fried tofu rice was what North Koreans often ate for their meal while working in these ‘grasshopper markets’, where they had to watch out for police crackdowns to quickly leave the place.

Text written by Rachel Jung