5-year-old Boy Enters LFNKR Orphanage

Rapidly approaching are the Christmas and New Year holidays – a perfect time for gift-giving. Perhaps you’ve been thinking of donating to a worthy charity. If so, may we suggest a very special group of orphans; abandoned children born to North Korean defectors in China.

The most recent child to come to our orphanage arrived just two months ago. Here is his story.

It was October 4, 2015, a Sunday, when, without announcement or appointment a fiftyish-looking man just showed up at our orphanage in China. With him was a young boy.

The man introduced himself as Choi, the chief of a small village in Helong about 50 km from the China-North Korea border. He had come to ask if our orphanage could take care of the child. “I’m living alone,” he told us, “and can’t care for the boy. But more importantly, it wouldn’t be safe for him to stay with me.”

According to Choi, the child’s parents, escapees from North Korea, had been working with him at his farm. And since they were good workers, Choi suggested that the defector couple could use the land of a farmer in his village who had left for South Korea a few years earlier. This gave the couple an opportunity to make a living. They quickly began building up their new life on their own, and soon their baby arrived. The father often told the village chief proudly about his baby boy, and at last report, the boy would be entering kindergarten soon.

However, three days before his visit to us, on October 1, local policemen came to the village and headed straight for the boy’s house. As soon as Mr. Choi heard about the policemen, he went to the child’s home and begged them to let the defector couple stay in the village. He strongly stated his willingness to pay any penalties for them. The policemen rejected his offer, saying that they had to take the couple to their station for interrogation. Thus, the boy’s parents were taken away, leaving him behind.

Ten years earlier, according to Choi, in June 2005, the defector couple had been chased by North Korean border guards and had risked their lives to cross the Tumen River into China. At that time, the father was 30 years old and the mother was 29.

The couple had escaped into China intending to stay for a just few months to earn some money and then to return to their hometown. With them was a Ms. Kim, a friend of the wife, who was also escaping. Upon crossing the river, all three of them were captured by a broker, a human trafficker. The broker took the husband to one farmer and the wife and Ms. Kim to another farmer, and he threatened them that if they failed to do what he told them, he would report them to the Chinese police.

The wife had first escaped from North Korea in 2000, and at that time, she had been lied to and sold to a farmer in China. Based on this experience, she was afraid that if she blindly obeyed the broker, she would be sold once more, never to see her husband again. Remembering her earlier experience, she secretly wrote down the phone number of the kind farmer where she and her friend had stayed for one night. That farmer was Choi, the village chief.

Back then, not knowing the actual situation of the ladies, Choi received money from the broker and let them stay at his house for three days. In the morning of the fourth day, the broker came back and drove the wife and Ms. Kim to a train station. After more than 10 hours on the train, they arrived in a large city. At lunch time, the broker took the two ladies into a restaurant, which was so small it had no toilet. The wife said that she needed to go find a toilet and walked out of the restaurant. Then she ran. For more than an hour she fled, not allowing herself to think about her friend, Ms. Kim.

Finally she found a shop on a narrow street which had a sign saying “Cold Noodles” in Hangul (Korean) characters. She expected to find someone at the shop speaking her language who might allow her to make a phone call. A sixty-ish lady was sweeping the floor. The wife said in Korean, “I was just robbed in front of the station and I’ve lost all my baggage. Could you let me use your phone to call my family?”

To her disappointment, the lady at the shop spoke no Korean. The wife tried her best to communicate by gestures, and finally made herself understood by pointing at the shop’s red payphone. When she dialed the phone number of the farmer where she and her friend had stayed for the three days, Choi answered the phone. She explained her situation and asked if he could help.

Choi did help, assisting her in returning to his village. After a week, miraculously, she was reunited with her husband thanks to the efforts of Choi. He had asked all the people in the village to be on the lookout for her husband. Choi almost certainly saved the couple’s lives at that time.

But now that couple have been arrested and shipped back to North Korea. And their son has been brought to our orphanage for protection and care.

He is gradually getting used to living at the orphanage. When he first came to us, he couldn’t sleep and kept looking for his mother to come get him. The staff at the orphanage could soothe the boy only by saying that his mother had gone for work but that soon she would return with lots of food and toys for him.

We sincerely pray that this somehow turns out to be true.

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