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first_img News Forging Your Own Path By Daily NK – 2015.02.03 3:13pm Currently a doting husband and father, aswell as the owner of a business carving out its place in the market economy, Lee countshis blessings every day. Life finally affords him a bit of spare time andmoney, but he has decided to redirect this good fortune to pursue further study.   Lee, who, due to demands in his field, lamented not taking up Japanese earlier, is currently enrolled in theJapanese department at Korea National Open University. His plans extend far beyond solely learning Japanese, he said, with hopes to continue to learn asmuch as possible, perhaps even attain a doctorate degree. “Even if one hasall the strength to move the world, without knowledge he or she cannot doanything,” he pointed out when pressed on the motivations behind his tireless dedication to study.Frequently asked by defectors about his successful settlement, and how they might achieve their own, Lee concluded by offering some words of wisdom. “Although it was a bit of a different situation for me,I advise that you be patient and make decisions only after carefuldeliberation. While encountering hardships iscertain, you may also be tempted to become dependent on the money you get fromthe country or the help you get from others around you. However, truesettlement is being able to live on your own without the support of others. After realizing that, you can say you’ve trulysettled,” he said.*This article was made possible by supportfrom the Korea Hana Foundation [the North Korean Refugees Foundation]. News News Facebook Twitter Defector Lee Geon Yeong (alias, pictured left; Image: Daily NK) is originally from a small village in North Hamkyung Province, NorthKorea. The eldest of three, he was an inquisitive, precocious child,always questioning, “What does the outside world look like? Is where I am nowbetter than out there?” Naturally, these thoughts sparked a desireinside Lee to discover what lay beyond the borders of North Korea. Afterconfessing these impulses to a close friend, he unwittingly imparted this sense of curiosity to his confidant. These words eventually transformed intoaction: after a few years passed, the same friend asked Lee if he wanted toescape. The notion’s origins as a quixotic joke cast away, the two successfully arrived inChina after making the perilous journey across the Tumen River.Fortunately, and rather surprisingly, Leeand his companion crossed paths with a kind stranger who provided them withfood and knowledge on how to avoid detection and subsequent apprehension bythe police. After spending two years in China together, his friend headed toSouth Korea, and Lee followed soon thereafter. “As the plane landed, my misgivings crept in. I thought, ‘This isn’t North Korea right?’ That’s how worriedand nervous I was at the time. But after seeing the brightly lit night view ofSeoul, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, realizing that I had finallyarrived.” Studying: the shortcut to success Following his time at Hanawon, thegovernment resettlement center for North Korean defectors, Lee officially beganhis life in South Korea, inundated with advice from those around him urging him to securework, the best route to a steady flow of money, as quickly as possible. Lee, on the other hand, felt differently. “I felt that I should first try to experience life here beforediving into a career. As I was completely unfamiliar with the South Koreanlifestyle, as well its culture, it made me question if it was such a good ideato thoughtlessly find a job,” he said.Instead, Lee resolved to first hone his skills and learn a trade, in his case, mechanical engineering, of which he had some prior experience in North Korea. This provedto be more of an undertaking than he realized–the highly advanced South usedcomputers for everything. The ability to operate machinery manually, ahighly-valuable skill in the North, was outdated, if not nearly obsolete, in the South.“It was at this time that I became very well aware of how much I needed tocontinue studying,” Lee recalled. “At the time, I thought to myself, ‘Koreansare very familiar with the computer processing involved with mechanical engineering,but not the hands-on work. If I learn the science behind mechanics, and combineit with my hands-on work experience, I can become an even better engineer,” he explained.Lee promptly devoted himself to improvinghis computer skills, and the complications arising from language divergencesnotwithstanding, was able to rapidly retain and apply large quantities ofcomplex information. He graduated with impressive grades and earned theattention of a woman who admired his passion for hard work and study–the twomarried soon thereafter. Lee secured a job at a semiconductorcompany for a few years before going to establish his own business specializingin super precision machinery in 2006. Shortly after establishing his business, it earned the status of a venture certified company, a term affiliated with SouthKorea’s special measures for promotion of venture start-ups, and began receiving shipment orders from anumber of major companies. Never stop studying  Entire border patrol unit in North Hamgyong Province placed into quarantine following “paratyphoid” outbreak center_img RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Image: Daily NK There are signs that North Korea is running into serious difficulties with its corn harvest SHARE AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? 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