Romanian locked up in China for eight years starts 100-day ‘spiritual journey’ past communist gulags

Marius Balo, who recently returned to Romania after spending eight years jailed in China for an $80 trap, on Wednesday began a 100-day journey on foot  that will take him past the country’s notorious communist-era prisons.


The 2,922- kilometer journey is symbolically one kilometer for every day he was locked up in China.

“This is a tribute to the nation’s martyrs…. a debt of gratitude to all those who have kept their faith in God in times of great trial,” the 40-year-old English teacher said in a message sent to

“For 2,922 days, I lived with my head pressed into the window, accumulating energy, dreaming of the day when I would be free again. I have accumulated everything – days, months and years – and now I want to spend it,” he said.

Political dissident

The route was planned with Leontin Iuhaș, chairman of the Doina Cornea Foundation. Doina Cornea was one of Romania’s best-known political dissidents of the 1980s when Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu tightened his grip on Romania.

She was harassed, intimidated and put under house arrest and only freed when Ceausescu was ousted and executed.

The ‘spiritual run’ or  pilgrimage began Wednesday at the Monument of Anti-communist Resistance in the northwest city of Cluj with a prayer.  He aims to cover 30 kilometers a day.

Political prisons

His route will take him past Romania’s former political prisons where thousands of politicians, priests, intellectuals, peasants were detained by the communist regime after World War II.

Hundreds of thousands of Romanians  were sent to communist gulags and labor camps. Thousands lost their lives there from hunger, disease, cold and mistreatment.

Mr Balo arrived in China in 2010 to work as a university English teacher, and was arrested by Chinese authorities in March 2014 and charged with an alleged US$80 contract fraud and was later, in 2016, sentenced to eight years and fined 13,600 Euros.

Grueling conditions

He then spent eight years in captivity in grueling conditions inside China’s prison system.

“I dreamed of being free. I lived, with all my being, every day, the supreme bitterness: to know that beyond those gray walls there is a world where everything vibrates…  a world … of passion and innocence, full of color and noise.”

“It is said that the greatest punishment you can give to a man is to take his world and then press his head into the window that separates him from it.”


From Cluj, he will go to  Gherla – Bistriţa – Suceava – Botoşani – Roman – Bacău – Târgu Ocna – Mărăşeşti – Focşani – Râmnicu Sărat – Brăila – Tulcea – Periprava – Poarta Albă – Jilava – Bucharest – Ploieşti – Mişlea – Brașov – Blaj – Aiud – Alba Iulia – Deva – Caransebeş – Lugoj – Timișoara – Arad – Oradea – Zalău – Baia Mare – Sighet – Cavnic – Gherla – Cluj-Napoca.

He will keep a daily diary and post about his experience on social media.

Marius Balo Marius Balo, profesorul care a petrecut 8 ani de închisoare în China a ajuns acasa, Observator News
Marius Balo Marius Balo, profesorul care a petrecut 8 ani de închisoare în China a ajuns acasa, Observator News

Romania to build memorial at notorious communist jail to honor victims, educate future generations


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