* Date : 2015-11-09
Separated by the sea, Gyodongdo Island is only about 2-3 km away from Yeonbaek-gun, Hwanghae-do Province of North Korea. It is so close that before the Korean War, people could cross the sea by swimming. Most refugees from the North have been to Gyodongdo Island at least once, and now, it has become their second home. Daeryong Market was first established by the refugees in the past, and it has endured an extremely harsh history. Choi Duk-kwon (age 77), a butcher, and Gi Gwang-sik (age 75), a barber, have stood by Daeryong Market since its establishment, and they dream of going back home one day. At an elementary school on Gyodongdo Island, a reunion is held for the alumni of Yeonbaek Elementary School. The old men's eyes fill with tears as they sit in a classroom and look at their diplomas and think about their old friends at home.
Yoo Yeon-taek (age 82), who was born in Yeonbaek-gun of Hwanghae-do Province, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in September of last year. He forgets a conversation that took place just minutes ago, but he still vividly remembers his home that he left 61 years ago. His face lights up with happiness as he draws a map of his hometown and traces it with his fingers to tell his stories. Last Chuseok, he held a memorial service for his parents in front of the barbed-wire fence where he could see Yeonbaek-gun. The moment he bowed down, his childlike smile disappeared from his face and only solemnity lingered. Yoo sends messages to his family in the unreachable hometown of Yeonbaek-gun.
Land wasn't the only escape route for the refugees of the Korean War. Many ships from small wooden boats to battleships carried refugees to the South. When they arrived in Gunsan, a layover stop in the middle of the West Sea, they established a town called Soryong-dong. A refugee from Yunyul-gun, Hwanghae-do Province named No Yeon-sun (age 89) sings her songs and tells her heartaching stories of home. A town for the refugees also exists in Yongji-myeon, Kimje. Although it was a barren land at first, the refugees established a town with bare hands and hoes. The oldest person of the town, Kang Hyeong-ro (age 96), left behind his wife, 5-year old daughter and 1-year old son in the North when he fled. He can barely move due to his age and all he can think about is his family at home. A volunteer group from Ewha Womans University gives him a surprise gift by painting a mural of his family. Kang finally smiles when he sees a painting of his children, who are smiling back at him. He tells his stories of anguish as he finally names his son after 61 years.