North Korean orphan

North Korean Orphans: An Impossible Question

We recently held our second annual English Camp for the North Korean orphans in our Second Wave ministry. The children in this ministry are born into forced marriages with Chinese men who purchased North Korean women, the children's mothers, as brides. The camp lasted a four days and a number of our children were able to attend. In this time we had the opportunity to teach them English and provide spiritual counseling. Most of the North Korean orphans in Second Wave have lost their mothers, who escaped to South Korea, were captured by the Chinese police to be sent back to a North Korean prison camp, or have run away from their repressive marriages.

One of the North Koreans, “Yung” attended camp. Yung was abandoned by her mother when she was three-years-old. Her mother left her on the day Yung had open-heart surgery, which was about six years ago.

During camp, one of our counselors was able to form a very close bond with Yung. Towards the end of the camp, Yung asked the counselor, “Can you be my new mom?”

The best way to describe Yung is spunky. She has a personality that compensates for her diminutive height. When we took her measurements, she fell well below the average 5th percentile for height and weight in her age group.

Yung lives with her father in rural Northeast China. We make frequent visits to her home, which out missionaries have described as a pigpen. In a recent visit in January, dirty dishes were strewn on their small living space and Yung was covered in ash from a poorly maintained, coal-burning heating system. She had a heavy cough.

She is loved and cared for by her father but her desire for her mother is obvious.

We teach our counselors to answer our children honestly, especially when they ask for the impossible, like Yung did this year. Our counselor answered, “I can’t be your mother but I want to see you again.”

Yung began making appointments immediately.

One of the purposes of our camp is to teach our North Korean orphans a language that can be very useful to them; it is also for the purpose of bringing the healing hope of the gospel to these children. We try to remind them that they are not forgotten but that there is a God who loves them and cares about them.

To sponsor a child like Yung, please visit our Child Sponsorship page.

Prayer for North Korean Orphans: Hardly a Chance

Please pray with us as we serve North Korean orphans while navigating through the difficulties and frustrations of Chinese government's bureaucracy. We have written in the past about how urgent the situation is with the half-North Korean, half-Chinese population - the North Korean orphans, stateless children - we serve in China. While China has made some concessions to accommodate this population, their system of bribes and corruption has made it almost impossible for most children to pull themselves out of poverty.

In China a child does not have access to education, health care or any government service unless he has legal identification. China now allows stateless, North Korean orphans to legally register and receive an ID, but, as we will explain, laws are not straightforward in China.

For a stateless child to receive legal identification, he must pass through three official Chinese offices:

First, the child must get an official document to prove their father is indeed a Chinese citizen. This can be obtained in most hospitals and in rare cases at an office of record keeping.

Second, the North Korean orphan must go to the police bureau and obtain proof that his mother was taken by the Chinese police and sent back to North Korea. The child can also make the argument that his mother has escaped to South Korea but in our experience it is much easier to pass through the police requirement if the mother was actually sent back to North Korea.

Let’s be clear about what this means. In order for a stateless child to obtain legal status, he must prove that his mother was sent back to North Korea where she will be put in a gulag and potentially executed. Earlier this year Yonhap News, a South Korean wire service, reported that four such people were publicly executed.

The last and most difficult hurdle comes at the end, after the child has gone through the first two steps. A stateless child must take his case to the Family Registration Department where, if the child can show proof of paternal citizenship and maternal arrest, he should be granted a legal ID. But this is not how things work in China. A bribe of 3,000 to 5,000 RMB ($475 to $793 at today’s exchange rate) is necessary to complete this step. There is no receipt for this fee and there is no official record of it.

For there to be any substantial improvements in the lives of North Korean orphans, change must come at a systemic level. And with China’s one-party, pseudo-totalitarian government, we are not holding our breath. This is why we firmly believe that outside intervention is necessary for these children to have a shot.

Please pray for us as we continue to navigate the confusing, ever-changing bureaucratic muddle of China on behalf of our North Korean orphans.

Prayer for North Korean Orphans: A Process of Healing

In the past two weeks, Crossing Borders has been in constant motion as we opened booths at the Glenview Farmers Market and the GKYM conference. Because of this opportunity, we were able to share and speak to many people about North Korean orphans and refugees we serve. In response, we are overwhelmed by the interest, support and generosity many of you have shown toward our ministry and thank everyone who took the time to speak with us. Thank you for making our booths a success and we hope to be connecting with you in person again soon. As you pray with us this week we ask that you lift up our North Korean orphans and refugees who have, over time, displayed a miraculous process in healing from their traumatic experiences. We know that this has only been possible with the work of God and every one of us at Crossing Borders can speak to witnessing God's hands in the lives of many of the refugees and orphans we help.

We recognize, however, that this transformation through healing is an ongoing process. It is also one that often takes much time to nurture and develop. As God works powerfully, quickly or slowly, in the lives of the North Korean orphans and refugees we support, we ask know that prayer is an essential and critical need for their building strength.

On this note, we would like to share with you an interview conducted with one of the resilient and growing North Korean orphans in our care in the Second Wave program. As you will read from his experiences, he is one of the many refugee children in China who have felt the hurt and pain present in this world's brokenness.

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How was when you lived with your mom and dad together?

That was my happiest time. I liked that time.

Was your dad nice to you and your mom?

My dad loved me. He was very short and tiny and he liked me because I looked like him. He cooked fish for me. My dad and mom fought only one time.

What happened to him?

He died in a car accident when I was six. He drove a truck.

Then how did you and your mom live?

My uncle (dad’s big brother) took me and my mom to his house. My uncle hit my mom all the time, every day. My dad never hit my mom.

Were you scared?

I was scared of my uncle. He sometimes beat me too, for no reason. Oh, yeah, when he was drunk he got crazy and looked scary. My mom left me there and ran away by herself because my uncle hit her badly. I saw blood on her face.

So, you lived with your uncle? How long?

I lived at uncle’s house for long time. I didn’t like my mom because she left me there. He had a 20 years old son who was a disabled, he couldn’t walk, sitting all the time. I had three uncles and seven cousins, all were grown up boys. I liked 6th one who was a disabled. Everyone was mean to me except for that one. But I didn’t like my uncle he hit my mom all the time. I cried and hid behind old door and stayed there quietly. Sometimes I slept there and my mom looked for me everywhere.

Who do you miss the most?

I would hate to go back to my uncle’s house. I don’t miss anyone.

Do you miss your mom?

Sometimes. But, she is living with new dad and baby, my brother who is three years old and looks like my mom. I look like my dad.

Do you like to stay at your home home?

Yes, I like my home but when [my caretaker] gets upset I get scared.

Why does he get upset?

When we don’t clean our room or shower.

What would you like to be when you grew up?

A nice person, I don’t know.

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Though we cannot share with you his name, we ask that you would pray for him and the many North Korean orphans like him. Sometimes the process of healing is slow. But we know that God is at work.