North Korean Defectors: Update on Bo-ah

We informed you earlier this year that a North Korean refugee, “Bo-ah,” was sent off on the Underground Railroad and was well on her way to freedom. Recently, she contacted Crossing Borders and said that she made it to South Korea. She has been through re-education training at South Korea’s school for refugees, Hanawon. Now she is living in Seoul with another North Korean defector. Bo-ah crossed several borders, traversed rivers, climbed mountains and traveled in danger to make it to South Korea. She said that she felt our prayers as she fought her way to freedom.

Bo-ah’s struggles aren’t complete, though she has made it to South Korea. South Korea is now home to more than 25,000 North Korean defectors and many find it difficult to adjust to the modern lifestyle and capitalist society.

Seoul can be overwhelming for the former people of North Korea, people from a country that lives in relative simplicity compared to their southern counterpart. Some North Koreans even share that they are startled by their appliances, which can speak to them. Others are disoriented by the lights. North Korea, with its lack of electricity, becomes pitch black at night.

Though Bo-ah tells us that she is doing fine, she has shared some significant barriers she now has in South Korea. First, because her education in North Korea was only through the third grade. Second, she still longs to reunite with her family.

Just ten years ago, when a North Korean moved to South Korea, it was like they were saying goodbye to your family forever. Today, this is not the case. Through couriers that operate in China and North Korea, defectors like Bo-ah can send messages, money and other items to their remaining relatives.

Andrei Lankov, one of the world’s most respected scholars on North Korea, wrote that 49 percent of all North Korean defectors send money back home through illegal channels. Many send money to get their families out of the country.

Though Bo-ah would like to purchase freedom for her family, she doesn’t have the means nor does she have the education to get a higher-paying job to pay for it.

Until then, she chips away at her studies hoping that one day she will be reunited with her family. Please pray for Bo-ah and the thousands of other refugees who long to see their loved-ones again. Pray for her as she goes to school and church that she would find hope in Christ, despite the sadness of missing her family.

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.


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.


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.

Prayer for North Korean Refugees: Freedom

How do you think North Korean refugees envision freedom? Take a look at your schedule today, only two days from the 4th of July - a holiday when we celebrate our freedom as citizens of the United States.

What is it filled with? Work to complete? Errands to run? We are all so busy these days. If our jobs aren’t taking more than 40 hours a week, our social lives or families are. None of us are trapped or persecuted by authorities. But many may feel oppressed and stuck in the hectic cycle of our day-to-day lives.

On Saturday, the New York Times printed a fascinating column about this. Author Tom Kreider spells out the pitfalls of modern American busyness.

“Almost everyone I know is busy,” he said. “They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with friends the way students with 4.0 G.P.A.’s make sure to sign up for community service because it looks good on their college applications.”

And what it all adds up to, according to Kreider, is a pile of work to cover up the fact that our lives are often empty.

What does it mean, then, if even our scheduled leisure time, our rigorously organized holidays and days set aside for exciting activities add up to empty lives? If freedom is not found in barbecue or fireworks or all the leisure in the world, where do we stand as a people who are "free"?

The Word tells us quite simply in 2 Corinthians, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

As followers of God, our calling is not to only to celebrate freedom in rights or in leisure. Our calling is to celebrate having freedom in salvation. Because of the work of Christ, we live in the Spirit's satisfaction. We are made whole and overflowing. We live free of fear, of condemnation, of death.

However, we acknowledge still that North Korean refugees, and many around the world, struggle in fear. They are not only politically imprisoned, made slaves of hunger, poverty, and fear. They are not free to hear the gospel. They are not free to access the freedom God extends to them through the Spirit. It is for these reason that Crossing Borders works to reach them, beyond the borders of oppression, starvation, and pain.

So this 4th of July, please help us to thank God for the freedoms we enjoy, not only for our privileged lives and civil liberties, but for the Spirit. Most importantly, please help us to pray for and serve those who need this same freedom. Help us to provide for their material needs and most importantly, for their spiritual hunger.

Bernard Malamud, author of “The Natural” once wrote, “The purpose of freedom is to create it for others.”

The apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5, "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."

Today, as we pray, let us ask God that this freedom that we celebrate would not be wasted. Let's pray that the freedom of the Spirit would be delivered in the healing and empowerment to North Korean refugees in China and the oppressed around the world.