She entrusted her young children to Kim Il Sung
”All my childhood memories start from stepping off the plane that arrived in Pyongyang.” Monica Macias said.
On October 12, 1968, Equatorial Guinea became independent from Spain. Monica’s father Francisco Marcias Nguema became the first president of Equatorial Guinea and formed a one-party dictatorship.
Through several international meetings, Equatorial Guinea and North Korea have established friendly relations. Although Equatorial Guinea is not a socialist country, Macias admires Kim Il Sung very much, and Kim Il Sung cherishes each other with this African brother.
The British “Independence” stated that Marcias was rebellious in the late ruling period. Perhaps he had a premonition that he would not have much to come. In the autumn of 1979, Marcias sent his son Francisco Jr., daughters Monica and Maribel to North Korea.
Monica was under 10 years old when she came to North Korea with her mother. Her mother went to North Korea for stone surgery and was taken to Pyongyang hospital immediately upon arrival. The Monica brothers and sisters lived in Kim Il Sung’s residence for 3 months. At this time, Equatorial Guinea staged a realistic version of “Hamlet”, Monica’s uncle staged a coup and came to power, and Marcias was executed.
Monica’s mother learned of changes in her home after she was discharged from the hospital and left North Korea to return home, entrusting her three young children to Kim Il Sung.
A few months later, Monica’s uncle came to Pyongyang to take Monica brothers and sisters away, but was refused. Kim Il Sung said: “Francesco is like my brother. He left the children to me and I will be responsible for them to the end.” Monica’s uncle walked away and soon established formal diplomatic relations with South Korea.
I recognize North Korea more than my motherland
Kim Il Sung sent Monica brothers and sisters to Mangyongdae Military Boarding School outside Pyongyang. The British “Daily Mail” stated that if there is a noble school in North Korea, it would be tens of thousands of Jingtai Military Academy, where Kim Jong Il received “the original heir education”. Under strict military training, 14-year-old Monica has been able to skillfully use the “Kalashnikov” rifle.
Except for her skin color, Monica, wearing a green uniform and a red star hat, looks no different from a North Korean child. Compared with the locals, the lives of the three Monica brothers and sisters are superior. During the holidays, Monica will always receive gifts from “Grandpa Golden” and watch the New Year’s performance as a private guest of Kim Il Sung. When Kim Il Sung saw her, he often told her to study hard, “At that time, he was like the grandfather of ordinary people in North Korea.”
15 years of life experience in North Korea has made Monica recognize North Korea more than her motherland. After leaving North Korea, Korean was still her “mother tongue”, and even her memoir “I am Monica from Pyongyang” published in October 2013 was also written in Korean. However, she still couldn’t help but look at this country from an “outsider” perspective.
”When I first entered elementary school, my skin color always attracted the attention of others. I looked completely different from other children. Those children were always cruel. They called me’Lamb’s Head’ or’Black Girl’, which made me feel different. They are very alienated.”
Monica said that what she experienced was not racism but the ignorance of children. She didn’t really feel the pain on her skin until she went to college. Some North Korean students firmly believe that their race is superior to Monica, thinking that blacks are poor and stinky.
After careful observation, Monica discovered that inequality began in elementary school. Although children from poor and wealthy families are in the same school, their living conditions are different. The children accepted this difference very early and never talked about issues such as equality and wealth.
After living in Pyongyang for a long time, Monica discovered that North Koreans have “unique skills” that “clearly understand their hearts and show no expression on the surface”. In North Korea, information from the outside world often does not come from the official media, but is spread through ordinary people’s conversations. She has heard of a democratic rally in Pyongyang and student protests at Kim Jong Il University, but she has never seen it in person.
Monica recalled that many North Koreans learned about the disintegration of the Soviet Union and China’s reform and opening up through relatives in China, Russia, or friends in the Workers’ Party of Korea. “They talk about it when they have dinner at home, but never discuss these things publicly, but pretend they don’t know anything.”
Unable to adapt to the “capitalist lifestyle”
After the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, Monica left North Korea and moved to Equatorial Guinea and Spain to be reunited with her family.
After living in North Korea for 15 years, Monica could not adapt to life in Spain. The most prominent manifestation was that she could not manage her wallet. “The life of capitalism is too difficult for me. I don’t think I can survive in such an environment.” She carried the few cash that Kim Il Sung gave her, and when she ran out, she was empty-handed. Make her very nervous. In North Korea, everything is prepared for her.
In North Korea, foreign students have 80 Korean won of pocket money every month, so they don’t have to worry about rent, food and daily necessities.
In the 1980s, foreigners in Pyongyang often went to discos and could buy beer, rice wine or shochu for 5 dynasties. There are also whiskey and sake in the ballroom, but they are expensive. The disco is the favorite place for Monica and her peers, and it is the birthplace of many love stories.
Monica spends most of her pocket money on buying fabrics and making clothes. As you get older, it becomes more and more difficult to buy suitable clothes and shoes, and you have to do it yourself. Monica’s friends like to go shopping with her and search for fabrics. “Women everywhere in the world are the same.” Monica wrote that many North Korean girls spend all their pocket money on cosmetics and clothes.
A few weeks after arriving in Spain, the skills of cutting clothes in North Korea helped Monica get a job. Fortunately, Monica recalled: “I wanted to be a singer, but Kim Il Sung told me that I need to master a skill to make money and support myself after leaving North Korea.”
“My world collapsed to pieces”
What Monica learned in North Korea is the same as that of school children in most parts of the world. North Korean children also read Tolstoy and Shakespeare. “We also read science fiction, and Hugo, I particularly like “Les Miserables”!” Monica wrote in her autobiography.
After living in Spain and the United States for a few years, Monica sighed that the general education in North Korea was quite solid, and she found that her geographic knowledge was better than most Americans she knew. “In New York, no one knows where Equatorial Guinea is. Some people even think that Spain is in South America, and North Korean students can accurately point out these two countries on the map.”
The history class studied in North Korea is mainly about the general history of the world, including How the United States was established. The Korean War is regarded as a top priority. This history explains the division of the Korean Peninsula and provides an explanation for the miserable life of the Korean people. “The education we have received is that North Korea is still under a security threat.”
After leaving North Korea, Monica desperately found that she had suffered “historical deception.”
When I heard Spanish friends say that North Korea invaded South Korea, Monica felt very ridiculous and insisted that South Korea invaded North Korea. “He told me that I was wrong and took me to the library to show me history books.”
Monica was shocked when she learned the truth. “My world collapsed to pieces. I couldn’t sleep and kept crying.” After
calming down, Monica wanted to know what else was wrong in her knowledge system. “We were instilled in how evil and barbaric Americans are. When you keep hearing this since childhood, you will believe it. When I first met Americans, I was terrified.”
At the time, Monica was in Beijing. Visiting relatives, accidentally got lost. “I saw a white man walking by and asked him if he could speak English.” Monica said, “He has an American accent. I was frightened and thought,’God, this is an American’. The palm of my hand He started to sweat, turned around and ran. He shouted from behind: “Hey, stop! I won’t eat you again.”
In New York, Monica heard similar propaganda. “President Bush called North Korea an evil country. Americans kept asking me how I survived in North Korea. Why didn’t they kill me? An American even made my South Korean friends be careful because I am from North Korea. For me, All this is sad and ridiculous.”
This is exactly why Monica wrote her autobiography. “I want to tell people outside North Korea that North Koreans also have joys, sorrows, sorrows, and normal lives. They are not scary. I know what North Koreans are thinking and how to talk to them. They made me.”