Monica MaciasJun 1, 2023
Black Girl from Pyongyang
In Search of My Identity
Monica Macias, the youngest daughter of Equatorial Guinea’s first president at just seven years old, lands in Pyongyang, North Korea in 1979. Her father had sent her to the country to study, but what was meant to be a shorter visit grew to a decade-long stay when her father was ousted in a coup.
Monica stays in Pyongyang until 1994, when she graduates from Pyongyang University of Light Industry, and she decides to travel the world: to China, to Spain, to South Korea, to Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. and the U.K. Everywhere she goes, people are puzzled by her background: an African woman who speaks perfect, flawless, accentless Korean.
She first told her story in her biography “I’m Monica from Pyongyang” was published in Korean in 2013. She now tells her story in English in Black Girl from Pyongyang: In Search of My Identity (Duckworth, 2023). In this interview, we talk about Monica’s story, her time in Pyongyang, her travels around the world, and what misperceptions we may have about one of the world’s most isolated countries.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.