North Korean defector and author of "The Girl With Seven Names" Hyeonseo Lee explains what life was really like living in the country until she fled at the age of 17. Following is a transcript of the video.
My name is Hyeonseo Lee. I'm a North Korean defector and I grew up inside North Korea and I left the country when I was seventeen. And I wrote my memoir called "The Girl With Seven Names."
Everything we grew up with in North Korea was normal. I thought just the praising the leaders as God you know, public executions. We grew up with those public executions.
We thought this was a very normal thing to do as a human being. I thought every country have this system. And the ... the constant public executions were a constant reminder that I shouldn't do anything to disobey our government and the leaders.
In North Korea we can't say the leaders' name by itself. We have to put something the titles in front of the name. Otherwise, we can't be — we can be sent to political prison camp. As North Koreans, we know that. We have to be careful what we are saying. By saying wrong things can be sent to prison camp. Then not only you, but entire family will be disappeared in the middle of the night. It's a very common knowledge inside North Korea.
We don't know what happens inside but once somebody's sent inside there can't get out of the camp until they die. My mom told me many times that when you are outside you have to be careful what you are saying and don't repeat the words of what you hear at home.
This is the North Korea, exactly. Right now, I feel like we live in a — just prison. It's like a virtual prison we live inside the country.
Produced by Jenner Deal by Will Wei.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published on January 6, 2016.
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