18 September 2015

Published September 16, 2015 by rochellewisoff

Another Hightway

Friday Fictioneers Bookshelf

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The next photo is the PHOTO PROMPT. Does it speak to you? What does it say? Tell me in a hundred words or less. 

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

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Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100


            At thirteen Myung Hee was three years older than the rest of my students. Despite my many scoldings, they laughed at her and called her babo.

            One day I found her weeping in the schoolyard.

            “What’s wrong, little one?”   

            “My baby brother and I escaped Kim Jong-il’s prison camp but two days later I buried him in the desert with only the stars to see. I thought South Korea would be the center of my dreams, but they lie with my brother in darkness.”

            Myung Hee’s words resonated deep within me and, in that moment, the teacher became the student.   



.N Korean guitarists

A military parade of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and a mass demonstration took place at Kim Il Sung Square on Monday, Sept. 9th, 2013, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the DPRK. Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, was present. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)

Korean Faminie

118 comments on “18 September 2015

  • Yes this is a great picture.. and your take, especially the teacher becoming student was perfect in cases like this. With all the refuges from Syria coming I see that we can use images like this for similar writings… I will be travelling this weekend and I will not link up.. I prefer to be able to comment on all the stories.. But I actually wrote a poem yesterday where this picture would have worked perfectly.. 🙂



    • Dear Björn,

      I recently watched a documentary about North Korea and was both fascinated and appalled by what I saw. I couldn’t get the images out of my head. So when I looked at David’s photo with Korean writing on the sides of the buildings I knew where I had to go. While Myung Hee and her story are a work of fiction, she and it are based on several stories I listened to on You Tube.

      Your poem is wonderful and would fit the prompt. Safe travels, my friend.




    • Dear Sandra,

      I think if I chose to write these types of stories end to end they would fill a thousand pages or more. As it is, Myung Hee’s story is a conglomeration of at least four stories I listened to on You Tube.

      Thank you for your kind words both here and on your blog. The capitaine has an amazing crew. 😉



      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle, a poignant story that is sadly true for more places than North Korea at the moment. Reading or seeing something on North Korea it captures your fascination. For me it was reading the Orphan Master’s Son. Although fiction it has fostered an interest in North Korea since.
    Cheers Irene


    • Dear Irene,

      North Korea is only one place where it happens. I think what I find haunting about North Korea is the way children are raised to be little robots devoted to the dear leader. There’s no individuality, no freedom to think, to dream. Children are forced by the age of 9 to view public executions. If a person is convicted of a crime, his or her entire family goes to prison camp. (I think I’ve watched too many videos and read too many stories for 100 word flash 😉 ) When I first saw this video I thought the children were adorable and talented, now the smiling faces make my blood run cold.
      Thank you.



      Liked by 3 people

  • Another tale of truth and fiction wound into a great short story. The documentary on North Korea was disturbing. But then again, it doesn’t take much for your creative brain to envision stories. Love it.


  • Dear Rochelle,

    There are worse endings than those seen only by the stars. This was a beautiful story in many ways. You’re beginning to swim effortlessly and the walls are coming down. Well done.




  • A very touching, sad story, Rochelle! I was moved by the the way you worked in simple details about school life, and encapsulated the horrific ordeal the child had gone through in a few sentences. Something about the last line, though, makes me feel it could be less direct — what do you think? Alas, I have no suggestions!


  • Dear Rochelle
    Your touching and sad story makes we worry more than I was already, that the handful of refugees my country is willing to provide a home for, are treated with kindness and compassion by the British citizens. There is a great NIMBI attitude going on in our society now. I was heartened to hear this man talking on the radio who said he had two spare rooms in his house and he was in the process of clearing out the junk from them, so he could welcome two refugees into his home.
    Your stories are always so thought-provoking and deep.

    All best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  • In the name of the wee man!
    Why do you put us through this every week?
    You have an innate ability to turn unthinkable catastrophes into personal tragedy.
    You write with a potency that rips into our hearts, takes us to places we don’t want to go.
    But ouch.

    Liked by 3 people

  • Good story once again, Rochelle. I’ve seen news of that type also. It’s disgusting. Also, I’m having trouble connecting with WordPress so I haven’t been able to put my story on my blog yet. It started giving trouble yesterday and continues this morning. I’ll keep trying. 🙂 — Suzanne


  • I’ve read about this and watched quite a few documentaries about it too. The differences between the two countries are truly shocking. It’s hard to believe some of the things happening in North Korea are actually happening in the modern world. It isn’t a nightmarish movie plot. It’s really happening. The struggles and sacrifices people NK’s people make to escape it are awe inspiring. Thanks for writing about this. It’s an important topic going on in the world right now. People need to know about it.


  • People are often far removed from the realities of most of the terrible things that happen in the world being, as they are, so involved in their own day to day “dramas” .. we need more than just statistics to bring the reality into our hearts. A great story – I like how the teacher becomes the student – very sensitive and profound. Bastet

    Liked by 1 person

  • Such a sad situation over there in North Korea. I understand you watched a documentary. I’ve had been planning to watch one for a while. Now I want to watch it. Very well written story, Rochelle. You captured the sadness and despair.


  • Refugees are seeking haven all over the world and dying in the process. Those that stay in their counties risk starvation or dying. The rest of us fret about what to do, worry about opening our doors, or trying to figure out how to stabilize other people’s countries.
    Oy, what a world.



  • Rochelle,
    what a wonderful story you’ve drawn from this picture. It is true that North Korean refugees often have a hard time fitting into South Korean society. I haven’t had any in my classes, but I’ve had students that didn’t fit in like this and it kills me since I want to make it all better, but I can’t. What a great last line too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear David,

      I love the picture and as soon as I noted the Korean on the sides of the buildings my head just went there. We recently saw a couple of documentaries about North Korea. One was about an American Doctor who went there to do a surgical procedure to heal a certain type of blindness. He did over 2000 surgeries in a matter of days. Not one of those patients thanked him, instead they bowed before the Kim’s pictures and thanked the “dear leader.”
      Then I watched several You Tube videos with defectors telling their stories. The most memorable for me is the story Park Yeon mi.

      I was touched by the plight of the refugees who still have difficulty in South Korea because they’re so far behind academically.

      There’s always that student who doesn’t fit in, isn’t there?

      Thank you for letting me preach to the choir, for kind comments and for sharing the photo. (Funny, I’m only now noticing the paper tucked between the wall and fence.)



      Liked by 1 person

      • It doesn’t help either that the language has been diverging since the country has been divided. North Korean has a lot of Russian loanwords and South Korean has thousands of English loanwords. Many North Koreans come to South Korea and are assaulted by so many unknown words.

        Liked by 1 person

  • I think most people tend to ignore stories like this. Writers can’t, but readers often do. I know that is a gross generalization but I just want to thank you for not shying away from writing about people like this.


  • Sharp eye and powerful story telling, Rochelle! I didn’t see the writing on the building, until I read your response to Björn! Nice. The story itself delivers such a punch! I find the entire notion of N. Korea and what it has become, so appalling and haunting. You’ve captured both so beautifully. Shabbat Shalom, friend!


  • Once again, Rochelle, you grace us with a beautifully penned story about the tragic reality for too many children. I have found on our youth crisis line, I am so often the student when first nations youths have the courage to reach out. May I reblog your post, Rochelle, I do feel more people should see this. Shalom, Cheryl-Lynn


  • Reblogged this on Traces of the Soul and commented:
    Every Friday we get a chance to write a story under 100 words at Friday Fictionneers prompted by a photo that Rochelle gives us. However, she also graces us with story that usually floors me becuase of her gifted writing, yes, but all too often she has another message, has often done some research and creates an awareness for her readers of so many life events…past and present. This is a story that is current…yep, sadly part of our present that it is surely no gift to those children… check this post out and maybe have a visit at Rochelle’s prompts, who by the way also published an amazing novel (check my sidebar)”Please Say Kaddish For Me”.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle

    What a very topical take on the prompt this week. The leader of North Korea frightens the life out of me, so unpredictable, never know what he will do next.

    Nothing from me this week 😦 hopefully I will be able to join you all this week.

    Best wishes



    • Dear Dee,

      I’m sorry we won’t enjoy your writing this week but I appreciate your taking the time to read and leave a nice comment on my story. Kim Jon-un is as horrid as his father and grandfather.

      Thank you.




  • I’m glad this teacher is willing to learn. I grieve that our world doesn’t seem to have learned a thing from history. We just keep allowing the cruel and selfish among us to do the same brutal things again and again. Powerful story, Rochelle.


  • Dear Rochelle,

    Many years ago I read that a visiting reporter was stunned by the silence in the countryside. Not even a bird; the leaves and grasses were gone as well. How desperate a country must be to have to resort to stripping their countryside of every living thing just to stay alive.

    Your story this week makes us think. As a retired teacher it makes me remember the many times I learned from my own students. A poignant story.



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