North Koreans find faith and family in LA church

 North Korea refugee May Joo survived a harrowing journey before arriving in Los Angeles where she met Sarah Cho and her father at a ministry that serves North Koreans.   SUSANICA TAM/FOR KPCC

North Korea refugee May Joo survived a harrowing journey before arriving in Los Angeles where she met Sarah Cho and her father at a ministry that serves North Koreans. 

SUSANICA TAM/FOR KPCC

Amid a dozen other North Koreans, May Joo found herself in a community that gave her a sense of familiarity. But sitting and singing in the small church in LA's Koreatown, Joo found herself getting to know a God she had no idea existed before fleeing North Korea. 

The ministry, founded by the Cho family who immigrated from South Korea, aims to offer an open faith-based community for Koreans, in particular North Koreans who can often feel isolated or discriminated against. 

 North Korea refugee Sammy Hyun plays with his son after a church service in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday February 4, 2018.   SUSANICA TAM/FOR KPCC

North Korea refugee Sammy Hyun plays with his son after a church service in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday February 4, 2018. 

SUSANICA TAM/FOR KPCC

"There's this Korean word jeong — it's like this love you want to feel from people — but in Los Angeles, I was not able to feel a lot of community support. So I wanted to go somewhere they serve North Koreans, to receive jeong," said Sammy Hyun, 41.  

Listen to the full radio story and read the in-depth article here: https://www.scpr.org/news/2018/02/16/80767/once-barred-from-practicing-religion-north-koreans/