For last week’s Christian Fiction Friday post, I introduced Willow to anyone who hasn’t met her yet. Willow is Kennedy’s roommate in the Kennedy Stern Christian suspense series, but the worldly roommate who takes the new fledgling under her wing is a recurring type in a lot of my novels.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Mee-Kyong. If you’ve read Slave Again, you know her story in full, but right now in The Beloved Daughter, readers are only just now getting introduced to Chung-Cha’s feisty roommate in a North Korean prison camp.
My friend Mee-Kyong was one of the children who was never outside Camp 22, who was bred in captivity. We met in my eighth-grade class, which I was allowed to join after my unexpected release from the detention center. Children prisoners could attend school until they were fourteen, and I spent my first two years at Camp 22 as Mee-Kyong’s classmate and friend.
Mee-Kyong’s mother and father were both prisoners at Camp 22. Her mother was chosen by a National Security agent as a bride for her father to reward him for exceptional labor in the Chungbong mine. Arranged marriages between prisoners were not uncommon at Camp 22, Mee-Kyong told me. Since there was no other permissible form of physical contact between a man and a woman, marriages ordained by the National Security Agency were seen as one of a prisoner’s highest possible honors. Mee-Kyong’s parents were allowed to spend three nights together in a private hut, during which time Mee-Kyong was conceived, and for the rest of their lives they lived as single prisoners in the segregated dormitories.
At least that’s the story Mee-Kyong’s mother told her. Mee-Kyong had a slightly more colorful version of her birth history, which she shared with me one day when our class was ordered to the outskirts of the camp to collect firewood. “A National Security agent fell in love with Mother,” she whispered, all the while looking over her shoulder to make sure that our teacher wasn’t watching us. Once I thought my instructor from Hasambong was strict, but that was before I met the school mistress at Camp 22.
“They had a relationship,” Mee-Kyong continued, stressing the word and gauging my reaction. Of course, whatever I didn’t know about intimacy after living in a one-bedroom cabin with my parents in Hasambong, I figured out pretty soon after I moved into the dorms at Camp 22.
“The guard was scared,” Mee-Kyong’s eyes were wide and twinkling, and she spoke about her supposed illegitimate birth as though it were the most romantic love story ever imagined. “He didn’t want to get in trouble, so he picked a male prisoner at random and gave him my mother as a bride.”
I watched Mee-Kyong with both envy and awe. Mee-Kyong was beautiful, with smooth skin and sparkling eyes. She even had laugh lines. I could never figure out how my friend avoided becoming vacant and lifeless as the majority of the other prisoners. She spoke of Camp 22 as if it was her home, as if there wasn’t truly a free world out on the other side of the electric fence. She seemed proud of her fantasized heritage, as if the idea that her biological father might have been a National Security agent put her on a level above her peers. Mee-Kyong nodded at a guard standing in a hut on one of the watch posts that surrounded the camp. “See him?” she asked me with a wink. “Maybe he’s my father.”
If you haven’t read The Beloved Daughter yet, grab your copy today. And stay tuned next week to meet yet another example of this character type who for some reason or other pops up in nearly all my series.
Categories: Christian Fiction Friday, The Beloved Daughter