My favourite place in South Korea is Jeju Island: it's a tropical paradise with sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and the magnificent Geomunoreum lava tube system of underground caves.
We were taught North Korea is a heaven. They told us how people in western countries die in hospital or have no money to study in school.
On a bus ride through China, my family and I had talked for hours before a police officer boarded to conduct an inspection. My mother and brother couldn't speak Chinese, so they pretended to be deaf and mute, and none of the Chinese passengers said anything, sparing us.
When I was growing up, my mum was doing illegal smuggling with China. Sometimes she would see a fortune teller for advice. One time I went with her: 'In your future, you'll be living in foreign country and eating the foreign country rice,' she said.
Hyesan people have money, the most after those in Pyongyang, because it's near the border with China. Illegal smuggling businesses and Chinese trading companies operate there, so people can access outside products.
We always had power shortages in the country. I was living right next to the border with China, and it was the only country I could compare to my own. When I looked across the river, it was a completely different world - there were no people dying. It looked like a place full of colour, and that's what confused me.