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Adrift and Stateless: Korea’s Forgotten Children
Since the mid-1990’s, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled across the Tumen and Yalu Rivers in search of respite from oppression, hunger and growing economic uncertainty. Over 70 % of these refugees have been women. Highly vulnerable to human traffickers, a great number of these women have been “sold” to Chinese men and given birth to tens of thousands of children in the past 15 years. A staggering number of these“stateless children” have become traumatized and placed in jeopardy when their North Korean mothers suffer sudden and forced repatriation to the DPRK as illegal economic migrants or flee intolerable domestic abuse in China. Despite being a signatory to a number of international human rights laws and conventions, China continues the systematic practice of separating these mothers and children.
This lecture will also present one NGO’s strategic efforts to confront the mushrooming crisis of ‘invisible children’ who’ve been set adrift when governments turn a blind eye and birth fathers show themselves unwilling or unable to shoulder a parental role.
Tim Peters first came to Korea as a missionary in 1975 and has served in the greater Far East in the role of Christian activist for a total of nearly three decades. In 1996 Helping Hands Korea (HHK) experienced a major shift in focus away from projects in South Korea to the needs of North Koreans in crisis, and began sending food aid. From 1998 HHK undertook the additional task of assisting North Korean refugees, who had fled famine and oppression in their own country only to find their lives also at risk in China. Aid to refugees has included secret shelters, food, clothing, emergency medical treatment, spiritual guidance and comfort, with special priority given in recent years to stateless children. Logistical support has also been provided to the “underground railroad.”
The Christian/humanitarian activism of Helping Hands Korea has been profiled on numerous occasions in the domestic and international media, including a cover story in TIME magazine, a CNN special on North Korean refugees, as well as the award-winning documentary Seoul Train. Peters was awarded the Stephen’s Prize in Oslo, Norway by former Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik(on behalf of the Norwegian Mission to the East) in 2008. (Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.helpinghandskorea.org)
All lectures are sponsored by KEB