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I was raised by North Korea’s dictator – Daughter of Equatorial Guinea’s 1st president 

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Many would perceive a ‘brutal dictator’ like Kim Il-Sung, founder of North Korea, to be a hardhearted man, incapable of caring for another but on the contrary, daughter of the first President of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macías Nguema, has revealed that Kim Il-Sung affectionately took care of her when she was kept under his care.

Monique Macias was packed off to North Korea with her siblings in the 1970s when her father, Francisco Macías Nguema, was overthrown by his nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

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Monica 1
Monique Macías

“When we arrived [at Pyongyang] I thought we were just going there for a trip with my parents but I wasn’t aware of why we were sent there until suddenly my mother disappeared from my life,” she said. 

She was only seven (7) when this happened. 

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“[Initially] I thought she [mum] would come back soon but all the time, I said she would come back tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow but she never came back. It passed like years, one year, two years and after three years, then I think I accepted that she was no longer going there, that she’s no longer coming back,” she recalled.

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Francisco Macías Nguema – 1st President of Equatorial Guinea

During her 15-year stay in his custody, Kim Il-Sung, revealed another side of his personality which had been concealed. 

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Kim Il-Sung was, basically, also a dictator. His rule was characterised by persecution, public execution, enforced disappearances and torture. Due to his atrocious deeds, he was seen as cold-blooded.  

Monique Macias grew up as an African girl in North Korea here she writes on identity and how she sees herself now
Monique Macias grew up as an African girl in North Korea – here she writes on identity and how she sees herself now

Regardless of the general perception of him being a ruthless ruler, he remained loyal to his ‘friend,’ Macías by taking Monique under his protection. 

“In the beginning we met him more frequently until he sent us to boarding school but he was always there over the phone and he kept the promise he made to my father . He didn’t have to do it, because my father was killed . He could have perfectly sent us back but he didn’t so I do respect that. 

“If it wasn’t him maybe I wouldn’t be here,” she said. 

During his dictatorship, Francisco Macías established strong ties with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung, who was another world leader known for his human rights abuses. Kim Il-Sung is the grandfather of the current North Korean Leader, Kim Jung Un. 

Knowing his life and family were in danger from his many enemies, Macias had entrusted his three youngest children to Kim Il-Sung’s care. He had already sent his eldest son, Teo, to Cuba to become a ward of Fidel Castro. 

Monique toasting with the second wife of Kim Il sung
Monique toasting with the second wife of Kim Il-Sung

After Macias was overthrown in a coup by his nephew, Teodoro Obiang, and put on trial and executed, Castro sent Teo home “to the lions’ den” and Maribel rushed back to defend him. 

During their stay in North Korea, the siblings were all enrolled in the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School on the outskirts of Pyongyang, a boarding establishment for children of party members – all fatherless – where Kim’s nephew, who had a direct line to him, was deputy director. 

She was enrolled in the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School on the outskirts of Pyongyang

The school was dominated by boys since it was a boys’ school, but 20 girls were brought in to make the Macias sisters more comfortable on Kim’s orders. 

In school Monique learnt how to fire Kalashnikov rifles. She also learnt Korean rapidly, but was astonished by the institution’s rigidity, its 5am reveille followed by an hour’s exercise and the way her classmates asked permission to go to the lavatory. When she complained to a teacher, the tiny child was told, “Remember, you’re a soldier.”

Monique is currently 51 years old. Since leaving North Korea, Macias has been working as a fashion designer in countries including Spain, South Korea, and the U.S. Macias recently wrote a book about her life in North Korea.


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