One of the first North Koreans to come to the U.S. committed suicide in April of 2010. Last year a North Korean refugee and his wife were found dead in their Rochester N.Y. apartment in an apparent murder suicide. Many of the more than 20,000 defectors to make it to South Korea find it hard to adjust to a market-based, modern economy. Such stories might not make sense if you don’t know the context. Why would North Korean refugees who escape from the suffering and poverty of North Korea and China, North Korean refugees who make the dangerous and impossible journey through the modern-day Underground Railroad lose hope once they finally reach their prosperous destination?
I have met North Koreans refugees in China, defectors in South Korea and in the U.S. The story of struggle is almost always the same. They are a people without a nation, a displaced people who cannot find home.
The world they leave behind in North Korea is a place of hunger and oppression. In China they are hunted by the police or captured and trafficked as sex slaves. In South Korea, though they speak the language, they find themselves lost in the frenetic pace of the highly developed country. In the U.S. where only 200 North Koreans have decided to make their home, they are given very little support by the government.
In addition to the adversity of the foreign countries in which they choose to settle, many North Korean refugees long to see their husbands, wives or children who they have left behind, loved ones they may never see again.
As we emerge from our homes this week and live our lives of plenty, let us remember those whose hearts will never be satisfied anywhere except in Jesus Christ. Let us pray for the North Korean refugees whose hearts are yet homeless.