It’s a typical story. A North Korean refugee woman flees from China for South Korea. She works, saves and sends for her half-North Korean, half-Chinese child and her Chinese husband. The story should end happily but it often doesn’t. Many North Korean refugees who escape to South Korea and are changed by the fast and glamorous lifestyle. Women soon view their husbands in China as backwards and provincial and begin relationships with South Korean men who have a decided economic advantage over their Chinese counterparts.
“Sang” is an North Korean orphan in our Second Wave program. His mother fled China about four years ago. She, like so many North Korean refugees, sent for her son and husband who purchased her in the early 2000s. But it didn’t end up well for Sang. When Sang and her father arrived in South Korea, her mother was transformed into a busy Seoulite. She had a new life with more money and more opportunity. According to Sang’s father, they were both ignored in South Korea and eventually the father and son moved back to their simple life in China. Sang’s mother hasn’t called or sent money in years.
One of the contributing factors to this trend has been South Korea’s gender imbalance. In the 1980s, when ultrasound technology was more common, South Korea’s gender balance was one of the worst in Asia, according to a study by the World Bank. So egregious was this imbalance that the South Korean government banned doctors from revealing the gender of babies in 1987, according to this article by the New York Times.
Haneul, another one of our North Korean orphans, experienced a similar fate. Her mother, a North Korean refugee, went to Seoul and sent for her father. They planned to send for Haneul but, while her father was in South Korea, her mother was wooed by a South Korean man. Her father returned to China in shame and returned to work on his farm in Northeast China.
Chinese men who purchase North Korean refugee women are often the lowest on the economic spectrum. These men have little to offer Chinese women as far as looks and money. This is why many have to go to the human trafficking market to purchase a North Korean woman. So for these men to compete with rich South Korean men for the affections of their wives is challenging.
For the North Korean orphans under Crossing Borders’ care, this is a second forced separation from their mothers and a second rejection. Many of them feel rejected and abandoned twice over.
Please pray this week for North Korean orphans, who often bare the brunt of the emotional wounds from this situation. Also pray for these families to somehow reunite and become whole again. Until they do, Crossing Borders will continue to fill the gap and nurture them.