My Run For
– by Tim Hidori
So hey everyone!
As the title suggests, I’m doing something most
people wouldn’t ever think of doing – this coming April, I’m going to be running
a half-marathon in Pyongyang, DPRK. And I want your help and support in doing
My inspiration for doing so goes back a few
years. It’s a story I’ve told only a few people, and never all the details.
While studying abroad in China, I met a North Korean citizen who was studying a
Master’s program in translation. We met by accident, and I only knew her in
person for a few months, but I’ll never forget her. Let’s call her
Contrary to the media stereotypes of her
country, K was a very open, if initially reserved person. We quickly found that
despite our different backgrounds, we had a lot in common. We both came from
large families – four children in her case, five in mine. We both were very
interested in different cultures. A few times a week, we’d take turns showing
each other a movie or two from each of our cultures.
K really liked science fiction. We watched Star
Wars together – Machete Order (google it if you aren’t familiar). I still
remember how she got really excited and said “So cool, so cool!” at the
beginning of Star Wars IV, how she literally asked ‘is he supposed to be an
idiot?’ about Jar-Jar Binks the first time we saw him, and seemed pretty moved
by Darth Vader’s sacrifice at the end of VI.
K showed me some North Korean dramas and films
as well. Some of them were actually quite well made with pretty good arcs. I
remember after we watched a film about Koreans resisting the Japanese invaders
in WWII, how we talked about how sad it was that so soon after Americans and
Koreans had been allies in a heroic struggle against fascism together, we’d
become enemies. I think if Americans and Koreans had met each other as K and I
had, learned to see one another as fellow humans, rather than some demonized
caricature of “the enemy”, it never would have happened.
Meeting K, I got to know her as a person. She
had majored in Chinese language at university, and scored high enough to study
it in China. She had a fiance back in Pyongyang whom she was going to marry
after returning, and hoped to start a family there. She said she hoped to work
in foreign service because she wanted to help her country and people make better
relations with the rest of the world. She said Korean culture is beautiful and
hopes to share it with the world. I really hope she achieves her dream; her
country would be in good hands with someone like K – competent and well-meaning
– in a position of influence.
She also asked me about my life in America. I
told her about my family, life in Florida. She said she hoped she could visit
one day – particularly Disneyland (contrary to popular belief, a lot of North
Koreans love Disney films – mostly pirated DVDs coming in from China) – and meet
We traveled together too. Her Mandarin was a
lot better than mine, to the point where she could probably have passed as a
Chinese person if she wanted to. She loved drawing, so we went to Guilin, one of
the most places in China. She took TONS of pictures so that she could sketch
them and show her family when she went back home.
I still remember the last time I saw her too.
It was a really sad day as I saw her off in a taxi to the airport where she’d
return to Pyongyang to start work and a family. But we promised – hoped – that
we might meet again.
Like Dr. Martin Luther King, I have a dream. I
have a dream that one day Americans, North Koreans, and people of all
nationalities can learn to live side by side with one another – to see
differences of culture as something beautiful rather than something to hate. I
hope that if I ever find someone insane enough to marry me, that my children and
K’s children can meet and be friends, just as K and I did. I hope I can one day
take her to visit Florida, and she can one day take me to see her home in
For several years now, I’ve had this dream.
I’ve put it off with one excuse or another to myself. No longer. I’m 27 now; the
same age K was when we met.
If you believe in my goal of a more peaceful
world, I hope you can support me in whatever way, large or small – whether
donating to this cause or simply sharing it; either way it is largely
I’ve set a target of $1950, as this number
currently represents something terrible – the year my people and K’s people were
forced to become ‘enemies’ rather than fellow humans. The year that the terrible
war began that ended millions of innocent lives and ruined millions
But I want 1950 to represent something new. A
chance of hope for peace and a better life. Every penny of it will go towards
the cause of people helping people across cultural barriers – the first step
towards a better future. Let’s our generation be wiser than the ones that came
before us and stop listening to those who tell us to hate another simply for
their culture or nationality. I run for peace, and I hope you stand behind