Essay about Underground Railway to Freedom

Submitted By Mariaaalee
Words: 1604
Pages: 7

A picture can play numerous different roles depending on the person that is looking into the picture. Some people miss all the values the picture carries completely while some have the ability to look into the picture and dissect the different meanings and listens into the story it has to tell. Pictures can be a record, a memory, and is widely considered as art due to the creativity that it can carry with the emotions and the story it can tell within the four corners of the picture. This picture was taken outside of the gates of the Japanese consulate located in China. In this picture a toddler stands behind a black gate watching her mother get pulled down by the Chinese police guards. Her cheeks are flushed with a hint of pink as she looks like she is about to burst into tears as the guards, wearing a dark green army type suit with red decorations that might represent a post- communist state, are determined to keep the mother from crossing into the gate and will later arrest her. The expression of the mother in this photo is not visible, but you can feel her desperation to get across through the gate from the expressions of the two large men trying to keep her from crossing. This picture represents a cry for help of the people escaping the horrific dictatorial regime of North Korea and it brings us back to the history we have all forgotten that drove people to become refugees. It is a resemblance of the past, when the Korean War broke out in the late 1940s to the current period as North Korea fights this lonely battle against the world with communism.
Many times there are gruesome photographs of war all throughout history that literally shows the wounds and struggle of the war, but can it really display the emotions and the series of events that was affected by the war as well as the post-war photographs do? As Sontag says in her essay, Regarding the Pain of Others, “Victims, grieving relatives, consumer of news – all have their own nearness to or distance from war. The frankest representation of war, and of disaster-injured bodies, are those who seem most foreign, therefore least likely to be known.” Therefore, unlike actual photos of war, post-war photos show how it directly affected the people in the war and expresses the pain and sorrow of those that were connected to the wounded. This picture in particular brings us back to what is known as the “forgotten war” and the effects of the war it had onto the world for the last 60 years since it happened. The North Koreans who live under the horrific dictatorial regime of the Kim dynasty are “battered, kicked, dragged, lectured, and starved in a place they call home” and it is common to see people lose their family members from starvation. (Park, par. 10) “I was born in hell, but now I live in heaven.” said EunHye, a refugee who escaped to the U.S. from North Korea. The country evolved from the paradise of the working class into a living hell for all the people above and below. Now, more than 20,000 people have escaped the hermit kingdom since the early 1990s through the “Underground Railway to Freedom.” (Snyder, par. 3)
The picture displays the last stage of the Underground Railway which saves the lives of the people being affected by the communist state of North Korea in result of the Korean War. In the early 1990s, this so called “railway” began to fully function as many North Koreans faced a nation that can offer them less than nothing. South Korean missionaries put their lives in risk to help the North Koreas safely escape to the free world. This underground railway is not actually a railroad with trains as you would imagine, it is just the name of the journey that they take by entering into the borders of numerous countries illegally in the hopes of gaining their freedom and human rights. If you safely get past all those life-threatening stages, you are granted refugee status in the country of your choice and that country will help you start a…