As a society, we love the idea of a smart, strong, caring and independent woman . . . and well we should! Unfortunately, the female role models that our society often admires sometimes fall short of the above ideals. Jane Merrick recounting the role model she choose at 15 years of age, is a great example. She says,
But when I turned 15, she (my role model) was replaced by Kate Moss, who was edgy and stylish. She also made smoking a cigarette look cool, so I started smoking too.
It may be easy for us to recognize the absurdity with which we sometimes choose our role models, but have you ever considered that the best female role model might just be a 70 year old North Korean woman?
How do I know? Because “smart, strong, caring, independent 70 year old NK woman” describes the majority of our Underground University and Underground Technology students. That’s right . . . they aren’t young NK seminary students, ready to take on the world . . . they are seasoned, wise, older women who are ready to give their last years on this earth for the Lord!
So, what makes these women strong, independent, seasoned and wise? Take for example, their journey from North Korea to South Korea. Every North Korean defector has a different and yet powerful story, but many NK defector women have something in common . . . they were sex-trafficked out of NK.
Quite often the NK government sells their women to Korean-Chinese gangs, who then sell these women for even “bigger-money” to Chinese men who need a wife. Jang Jin-Sung, author of Dear Leader, recounted a terrible story of one NK woman in China, which I fear is all too common.
She was sold into a Chinese village family where she was locked up and used by all the men in the family. One day the father-in-law would be the aggressor, the next the brother-in-law, all sleeping with her. So she doesn’t even know who the father of her baby boy is, whether it’s the husband or the father-in-law or the brother-in-law. In the end, they pimped her out to the other men in the village, and pocketed the money (Dear Leader, 169).
Our Underground University students are women who suffered at the hands Kim Jong Il in North Korea, lived a miserable existence in China at the hands of their captors, and now battle depression and loneliness in South Korea. And yet, these women haven’t crumbled, become bitter, or lost hope. What have they done? They’ve committed their lives to the Lord and purposed in their hearts to reach out to other hurting North Koreans around the world.
Our typical female role models (in the Western world at least) tend to be focused more on things like material success and sex appeal. If you paid attention to the television, you’d be convinced that Beyonce Knowles, Angelina Jolie, and Danica Patrick were the boldest and bravest this world had to offer.
But consider the simple and yet powerful response one of our UU students had when she found out her son had been sent to a political prison camp in North Korea. She said,
At first I did not go to church after hearing the news that my son had been dragged to the North. But now, I put my every worry in God’s hands, believing that God is taking care of my son.
This woman, while certainly not perfect, shows the kind of perseverance and simple faithfulness that should be a model for each of us . . . regardless if we are male or female.