NK Orphan Needs Artificial Feet
LFNKR recently received a letter from a homeless child (Kot-jebi) forwarded by a Christian-based NGO in South Korea. The letter was written by a 13-year-old Kot-jebi, who lost his feet due to frostbite aggravated by severe burns. Mr. Kim, a Korean NGO director, has been working with Korean missionaries and local Korean-Chinese to support North Korean defectors and Kot-jebi, homeless children. LFNKR has decided to join them to help strengthen their local activities.
Hiding in Holes in Mountain Slopes
In Changbai, Jilin Province, where China faces Hyesan Yanggang-do in North Korea, many North Korean defectors, including Kot-jebi dig holes for shelter in the mountainside or seek out caves in which to live.
Two or three times a week, the local staff visits them at night to distribute clothing and food.
Last November, when the temperature went down below zero, the local staff met with 12 Kot-jebi and provided them with winter clothing and food. A few days after that, however, they were arrested by the Chinese police and repatriated to North Korea.
Released from Kot-jebi Prison for Homeless Children
They were allegedly confined in a Kot-jebi prison for two months, but were released on January 25, 2012, probably because of extreme shortage of food at the prison. Once released, they returned to China and “cave living.”
A boy named Chong Il-guang born in 1999 had been acting as the leader of the Kot-jebi group. When they were released from the prison, he decided to escape once again to China to check whether Changbai, the place where they had hidden before, would be safe for them to return.
Both Feet Amputated after Frostbite and Burns
Before Il-guang could cross the Yalu River on the way back to Hyesan, he suffered frostbite. Even worse, due to extreme exhaustion, he fell deeply asleep while lying too close to a bonfire. His rubber boots caught fire, which left severe burns on his feet. He was so deeply exhausted from his trip to confirm the safety of Changbai that he did not immediately react to the flames, and his feet were burned.
Fortunately, a nearby Korean Chinese noticed him and extinguished his burning rubber boots, but the boy’s feet were so badly injured that he was unable to walk by himself. As a result, both feet had to be amputated. He is now receiving treatment for the burns. Reportedly, another 6 months will be required to complete the first-stage medical treatment.
When Il-guang did not return as the other children had expected, his four Kot-jebi friends also escaped into Changbai, looking for him. Another group of 11 street children has recently been found, as well, so we now have 15 orphans to care for. LFNKR plans to supply them with food, and estimates to cover the next few months total about 100,000 yen. Your support would be welcome.
Note: To protect the children, their photos have been processed and their names changed to protect their identities.