North Korean refugees have been making their way through China to South Korea for about 15 years. About 27,000 of them have made it through the Modern Day Underground Railroad through Southeast Asia to freedom in South Korea and the rest of the world. But there has been another migration from China to South Korea that has been impacting North Korean refugees in the area. Koreans in China have been migrating to South Korea in droves over the past few years. The Chosun Ilbo recently reported that more than 600,000 Korean Chinese have migrated from China to Korea in 2011. And Bloomberg News reported in 2009 the beginnings of a mass migration of South Korean citizens from China back to their homeland.
This secondary migration has made it even harder for North Korean refugees to hide in the region. There are fewer people who are sympathetic to their needs and fewer members of the underground church to aid them as they seek refuge from the world’s most repressive regime.
Recently, Crossing Borders took in a young girl named “Sunnah”. Sunnah's mother is a North Korean refugee who fled to South Korea through the Underground Railroad. Sunnah and her father were beckoned by her mother to South Korea, where they lived until 2010. In a new country with new possibilities, her mother began to ignore Sunnah and her father. Sunnah's parents began to fight and eventually Sunnah's father returned to a life of poverty in Northeast China, bringing his daughter with him.
To make things worse, Sunnah’s father has a degenerative bone disease. He can no longer walk. They stayed with Sunnah's uncle, who also lived in abject poverty.
Their local underground church was poorly equipped to help because many of their members had moved to South Korea in search of economic opportunities. Our missionaries report rapidly diminishing numbers in congregations of underground churches. Many are left with only the elderly in their congregation.
It was by God’s providence that we met Sunnah and her father through friends of friends. She is being put into a boarding school and is doing better.
Please pray for North Korean refugees in this rapidly changing landscape, many of whom are finding it harder and harder to find help.