His family was later charged for being related to him, and several day after he went missing, Jia's mom, sister, and her paternal grandparents, were transported in a military truck into the isolated mountains, to the village for political offenders, labeled as the “commonly bad.” Jia's mother was then pregnant with Jia. Her mother died after giving birth to her.
From the day when Jia, then seven years old, was smuggled out of the prison camp to seek greener pastures in Pyongyang, she had cautiously followed her grandfather's instructions, never to reveal to anyone, anything about her family background. She was instead to give the impression that she was an orphan from a good family background. Jia had kept her family secret well, until she met her fiancee, Seunggyu, a military officer. Jia initially thought that, having been together for more than three years, and having strong feelings for each other, her fiancee would accept her, and overcome his
prejudice against “those people” whom he called “traitors” (pp122-123). His response to her family's
Jia: A Novel of North Korea 2 background, however, did not augur well for her. Not wanting to endanger those around her, especially her boss who was threatened by her fiancee, Jia was forced to plan her escape to China, during the winter of 1997.
With the help of some friends, Jia managed to buy a travel permit for 50 US dollars, from the black market (pp 128).