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Grace Jo

Grace Jo

Grace Jo was born in North Korea, a place where she almost starved to death as a child during the Great Famine of the 1990s. Jo’s father was tortured and starved to death for the “crime” of leaving the country to search for food for his family in China. Jo lost most of her family during this time, and in 1998, Jo’s mother concluded there was no hope for her family in North Korea. On Jo’s seventh birthday, she, her mother, and her older sister Jinhye crossed the Tumen River into China. For ten years, the family hid in China in fear as undocumented North Koreans, moving between locations frequently to avoid discovery. During this time, Jo was caught and repatriated to North Korea twice, spending time in Chinese and North Korean detention centers and a North Korean orphanage. In 2006, Jo and her family were granted protection by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Beijing and allowed to enter the United States as refugees in 2008. Today, Jo volunteers as Vice President of NKinUSA and is also a full-time college student.