By HyunCheon Kim
Translated SeungYeon Woo
It is very hard to find and eat Soondae that is made on the spot in the Boston area, but there is good news for people who are willing to eat Soondae immediately made for them.
“Please come and try tasty Pyongyang Soondae with steam rising up!”
Young-ae Ma, a member of North Korea Pyongyang Art Group, will be visiting Boston and selling Pyongyang Soondae at Lotte Mart in Cambridge for 10 days, from Friday, July 20th to Sunday, August 10th. Ma is planning to use the profits from selling Soondae to help North Korean defectors.
“This type of fundraising is a way for North Korean defectors to try to be self-sufficient. I hope that 'selling soondae' will be the first important step for defectors to start settling down,” said Ma. She also added that she is trying to avoid receiving support from other people and she wants to do something by herself.
According to Ma, Pyongyang Soondae is different from regular Soondae since it has more stuffing inside of the intestines. Because of its better stuffing and more delicious taste, Pyongyang Soondae receives favorable comments from people.
“The stuffing of South Korean Soondae is only made of Japchae but the special thing about Pyongyang Soondae is that its stuffing is made of a lot of 'well-being (nutritious)' ingredients, such as glutinous rice, white rice and different kinds of vegetables.”
Also Pyongyang Soondae at Lotte Mart will be sold with slices of cooked liver and lung.
Moreover, Ma is also seeking to set up a franchise business for Pyongyang Soondae around Boston. If she opens a Pyongyang Soondae restaurant, she is willing to introduce not only Soondae but also seven other kinds of North Korean food, such as Soondaeguk (Soondae stew), Pyongyang Naengmyeon (cold noodles) and Pyongyang Mandu (stuffed dumplings) on the menu.
Pyongyang Soondae at Lotte Mart will be handmade by another North Korean defector, Eun-chul Choi. Choi is Ma's husband and he is very skillful at making Soondae since he has been taking over the family business of making Soondae as the 4th generation. He also has experience in operating North Korean restaurants in Seoul and Los Angeles.
Ma, who left North Korea in the beginning of 2000, is currently leading the church of North Korean defectors in the U.S. and Pyongyang Art Group. She has founded 'Ma Young Ae Soondae' and manages it with her husband.
On the basis of the Soondae business, Ma and Choi are planning to train cooking skills of North Korean traditional food to the defectors in the U.S. in order to allow them to support themselves working as cooks. Also, they wish to open franchise Soondae restaurants to support defectors to be settled down independently.
When Ma tried to escape from North Korea, she was caught by the public security. She was imprisoned for 35 days and went through lots of suffering. Ma finally could escape successfully by offering money as a bribe and negotiating with the officers. It was winter, severely cold with 30°C below zero at that time, and Ma lost some of her toenails. After 5 years, she bailed her son out with money but her former husband was publicly executed.
“Although I had gone through hardships, there are many more North Korean defectors with worse sufferings. They are just escaping at risk to their lives because they cannot handle hunger in North Korea. If they are caught, they are sent to prison camps or they are executed,”said Ma.
Earlier this year, when there was a serious international issue about sending North Korean defectors in China back to North Korea, defectors in the U.S. sent letters to President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in order to help out their fellows.
Ma said, “I have had threats on my life many times. I live my life once anyway so I will do my best to firmly supportmy fellow North Korean defectors.”
ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지