It was Aug. 30, just after the 4th General Meeting in Seoul
of IPCNKR (International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for
North Korean Refugees and Human Rights).
We headed to a small hotel to meet some of the foster children
that LFNKR had formerly supported under our education sponsorship
plan. They had all lived together like a family for several years
at the same LFNKR shelter in China after fleeing from North Korea.
Some of them are now young adults in their early twenties.
We had received an announcement of the marriage of Y.E., one
of our former foster children who has now grown into a lovely
young lady of 22. Her fiance is also a former refugee from North
Korea who managed to escape alone. Y.E. had promised to introduce
us to him.
When we reached the hotel lobby, it was only 5:30. We were half
an hour early. I was pleasantly surprised and excited to find
another of our young ladies, J.G., already waiting in the lobby.
The last time we had seen each other was in November of 2006
when we went to Gyeongju together.
We hugged and quickly began
catching up on each other's news. She is now a freshman in
college where she is studying to be a kindergarten teacher. She
become pretty good with English, having learned it while studying
in Manila for 6 months. She says that she enjoys her child
psychology class the most.
A bit later,S.H. Joined us. He has always been the “big
brother” of the kids. He is currently going to a school
for dental technicians. He always impresses us with his courteous
manners and bright energy. His lively eyes were flashing brighter
than usual as he talked, giving evidence of his productive, happy
Then, Y.E. came in on the arm of her young,
Y.E.'s fiance is so handsome he could easily
be a Korean movie star. Both his parents had already died when
he escaped alone
from North Korea. He has not yet succeeded in contacting
his brothers still living in North Korea.
He met Y.E. at Hanawon. Through the interpreter, I said to him, “Y.E.
is a very brilliant, down-to-earth lady. Please take good care
of her.” I had known Y.E. since she was a child in one
of our shelters, and had spent a week with her during her visit
to Japan last year. She truly is a wise and sweet-natured young
Then Y.S. arrived. He is now studying at the Chinese language
dept. of Chung-Ang University in Seoul. Seeing his contemporary
haircut, Mr. Kato commented, “Cool. You look like a rock’n
roller.” Y.S. was once small and frail-looking, but now
he has filled out and grown taller. He is enjoying life in the
After all “our children” had arrived, we moved to
a more upscale restaurant because we planned to make this wedding
celebration dinner special. Once at the restaurant, we caught
up on the children's stories – their new daily lives, universities,
colleges and hobbies.
Y.E. told us that the wedding ceremony would
be on September 8 in Pusan. “Why Pusan?” I asked.
She answered that “C.S.,
who was a member of our shelter family back in China, asked her
high school's minister teacher if he would perform the marriage
ceremony for us. C.S. is currently studying in Pusan at a high
school with a dormitory run by a Christian church.
I am sure that our former foster children still face many challenges
as they adapt themselves to the completely different environment
in South Korea. They continue to grow daily through strong determination
to build their future through their own efforts, and they are
obviously helping each other, just as any family would.
Seeing them like this, I was overcome with sheer happiness and
joy. I love them from the bottom of my heart.
Every single day I pray for the happiness of
all our children, including those who were not able
to come and see us that day.