JULY 2003

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Increased Support for North Korean Refugees
From JoongAng

June 9, 2003

By JoonYong Ahn and YoonHee Park

More and more Koreans in New York are helping North Korean refugees.

Through concerts and bazaars, religious groups and other non-profit organizations gather funds and send them to organizations in China that take care of North Korean refugees. Also, some refugees are invited to the U.S. as guest speakers in seminars sponsored by these community service groups.

On June 8, a bazaar was held by the Church of St. Francis of Assisi at 32nd Street and Broadway in Manhattan. About 50 volunteers from the church participated and sold Korean food, donated clothes, furniture and other home products.

Father Kim explained, “We have long been engaged in helping the homeless in the city. Now is the time to save our own brothers and sisters in North Korea from suffering.” Half of the profits from this fair will be sent to help North Korean refugees in China, and another half will be used for charity in New York.

The New York Art Song Association (NYASA) has been raising funds for supporting North Korean refugee camps in China through concerts since 2000 when the refugee issue was started to get attention among many Koreans. This May, the association presented the 7th Benefit Song Concert for the North Korean Refugees at HyoShin Bible Presbyterian Church of New York. Many singers volunteered and successfully attracted an audience of 500.

ByungSun Suh, the president of NYASA, thanked Korean-Americans for their support and participation and acknowledged that the profit goes directly to the missionaries in China who are helping the refugees.

The Commission to Help North Korean Refugees in New York invites North Korean refugees who successfully settled in South Korea to speak to Korean communities in New York and to U.S. politicians.

This January, the commission held a conference on the reality faced by North Korean refugees. It invited Yong Kim, a former North Korean lieutenant who escaped from the notorious “No. 14 political prison” and made his way to South Korea.

In addition, there has been increasing coverage of North Korean refugees by major media in the U.S. Last month, the New York Times Magazine presented a special issue on children in North Korean refugee camps with horrifying pictures describing constant deprivation and fear. The New York Times introduced eight North Korean youths who crossed the border to China risking their lives and currently are living in accommodations provided by the South Korean government.

Translated from Korean by JooYeon Lee

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