Kato Pleased with Happily Resettled North Korean Families


It’s well worth it

Hiroshi Kato

Hiroshi Kato, the executive director of LFNKR, participated July 3 in the annual exchange party for NK refugees held in Osaka.  Joining the party were about 50 former North Korean defectors who have resettled in the Kansai region (south-western half of Japan, including Osaka).  Attending were three generations, ranging from babies under the age of one up to 70 years-old.

Kato was overwhelmed by their boundless energy.  They sang and danced to Karaoke without a break for three hours straight.  He was very impressed by their extremely good singing … and by their dancing, which surprise him. He saw waltzes and jitterbugging rather than more traditional Korean dances.

One characteristic of former North Korean defectors resettled in the Kansai region was the age range of their families. Not only the first generation families (ethnic Korean residents of Japan who had moved to North Korea), but also their children who were born in North Korea and escaped from their homeland and resettled in Japan have now gotten married and had babies—the third generation.  He was happy to see the youthful energy of the second and the third generations, while the first generation people are enjoying their stable, peaceful retirement lives.  Kato was also glad to see that the friendship among the former North Korean defectors has deepened.

It has been 17 years since LFNKR first helped a North Korean refugee family reach Japan. They came via Siberia.  This family was also at the party.  Back then, their daughter was not even one year old.  At first they really struggled in Japan, but now they are running their own successful guest house, which they named after their daughter.  The wife, as manager of the guest house, works very hard, but she recently hired a part-timer so that she can go to dance class a few times a week.  They said that they have faced many difficulties, but now they are happy and enjoying their life in Japan.

Kato also had a chance to talk with two more former North Korean refugee families in their thirties who recently received loans and purchased new homes.  He admires the positive attitude of the young generation.

Kato’s heart was filled with joy as he witnessed so many happy North Korean people who have resettled in Japan.  He has faced many difficult situations in helping North Korean refugees in the past, but witnessing their happy faces convinces him all over again that it is well worth it.