North Koreans have a history of social exclusion and marginalisation among distrustful South Koreans. The death from starvation of a North Korean woman and her 6-year-old daughter in opulent Seoul last July has prompted the government to act.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 550 North Korean refugees currently live in the South in a situation of economic or social crisis, this according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which is tasked with helping defectors from North Korea.
Some 31,000 North Koreans live in South Korea where they tend to suffer discrimination and marginalisation among distrustful South Koreans.
However, after a North Korean woman and her 6-year-old daughter starved to death amid Seoul’s opulence last July, the government has decided to act.
Surveys conducted last year indicate that 553 people or 1.7 per cent of North Korean defectors live below acceptable living standards. Unable to find work and no longer receiving government subsidies, they are unable to make ends meet.
The Catholic Church and religious groups have long had special outreach programmes for them, but they are not always able to reach them. In fact, fearful North Korean refugees often hide from the world.
For the Korea Hana State Foundation, these people are in urgent need of support. Together with local municipalities, the Foundation has taken steps to provide emergency aid. This includes paying most urgent bills – food and electricity – and making regular house calls to check on them.