From Supported to Supporter

5 Years Later

By K. Matsubara (alias) – Former North Korean Refugee

A Korean proverb says that “mountains and rivers change in 10 years.”  It obviously means that 10 years is a long time and brings big changes.  Then, what changes have my husband and I experienced in the past 5 years since we finally entered Japan?

Actually, we have gone through many, many changes.  For a while after coming to Japan, everything seemed new to us and difficult to get used to.  But now, we can handle most things without asking for help.  Although we have not yet achieved our biggest goal, I feel that we have achieved great growth both spiritually and financially.  And we are now able to help other North Korean people needing assistance.

Every North Korean defector, when they start their new life in Japan, faces difficulties in adapting themselves to Japanese society. This is mainly due to the differences in lifestyle habits, culture, ways of thinking and so on.  However, I appreciate having found out that we can overcome most difficulties involved in making a livelihood by ourselves as long as we continue making efforts.  We feel very proud that we have reached this level of satisfaction.  We cannot, of course, forget the support extended by LFNKR people who have helped us successfully adapt ourselves to Japanese society.

Unlike South Korea, Japan has no official support system for helping North Korean defectors to resettle in Japan.  So, it is not easy for us to make a stable living, but my husband and I are starting to share jobs with other North Korean defectors having difficulties in resettling in Japan.  We need to help and encourage each other.  It is especially important, I believe, that those who have achieved independent new lives in Japan extend support to newcomers by giving advice.

My dream now is to create a workplace where North Korean defectors resettling in Japan can work together.  The workplace will provide good opportunities for the new resettling North Koreans who may experience difficulty finding jobs to establish stable financial bases.  I hope that the workplace will help them develop hope and pride.

In another 5 years, I expect to see my dream come true.