Jeong Hoon Lee <11th, Daewon Foreign Language High School>
Pastor Chun Giwon has been helping North Korean defectors for over a decade through Durihana. His work includes assisting those trying to escape North Korea helping those stranded in China get into South Korea and providing safe haven for the rest. One of his most recent projects is the House of Angels an orphanage for North Korean children in China.
▷ How are the kids?
▶ The mothers are all gone. They either left their child to go to South Korea or were caught and shipped back to North Korea. Most of their fathers are Chinese. They are too poor to take care of the children. Because the mothers didn't have any citizenship when they gave birth the children have none either. As a result they are neither Korean nor Chinese. It is possible to buy a citizenship but the cost is much too high for the Chinese fathers.
▷ What is the official stance of the Chinese government regarding North Korean defectors?
▶ They consider the North Korean defectors as illegal residents because the North Koreans entered its borders because of economic reasons not political. As a result they are not considered refugees. But according to the United Nations a refugee is defined as someone who cannot go back to his/her country. China because of its diplomatic relationship with North Korea doesn't recognize this. China might be right in that they aren't political refugees. But they are refugees nonetheless.
▷ What are the kids in The House of Angels like?
▶ Every child except one has a government document making them legal residents. They attend school and get enough to eat. But these children are a minority. Many still live in the mountains and forests because they have nowhere else to go. But although the children in the House of Angels might not be as desperate as the rest they are still parentless. Many have seen and experienced things no children should. One eight-year-old says he wants to commit suicide.
▷ How much does it cost to take care of one child?
▶ It doesn't take much to feed them. But it's illegal and we don't receive any government funding of any kind. Generally we hire about five people to take care of one house and that equals about 400000\ for every child monthly. It should only cost about half of that anywhere else but because of the various obstacles we face it's only becoming harder and harder.
▷ What is the final aim of the House of Angels?
▶ It's to get these children educated and eventually make them into functional members of society. To do this we try to send them to South Korea or the U.S. Two kids are going to the States this December. They were adopted by an American couple. Since these children have lost their parents they have the right to at least grow up in the best environment possible.