Before leaving North Korea, Song remembers hearing her husband's voice over the telephone. “Jiyeon, you need to pray to God. Pray to him and ask him to bring you safely to me. If you do, he will hear your prayer. . . . Whatever happens, whatever terrible situation you find yourself in, please don’t end your life.”
In 2009, standing on the train platform before his departure from North Korea, Kim studied his wife’s expression. Her broad cheekbones were weighed down by her somber round eyes. They had been married for two years, and she thought he was leaving for a 15-day business trip. But he knew it might be the last time he ever saw her. He was taking the train to a border city where he would meet an escape broker and prepare to leave the country.
He wanted to clutch her close, to give sound to the fear inside him, to promise he would send for her once he got out, but a dramatic display might reveal his plan, and any knowledge of his plan could put his wife in danger. So he continued watching for the train, grasping his wife’s hand more firmly in an attempt to calm his racing heart.
“We don’t have to stay here, you know,” Kim recalled saying. “What if there was a better place for us? We could go live there.”
Song nodded. Another city in North Korea maybe, she remembers thinking at the time.
Despite everything he had to lose, something was calling Kim away. Maybe it was God.