|2015 Miracle: Rescuing More Than 100 North Korean Refugees!|
2015 Miracle: Rescuing More Than 100 North Korean Refugees!
Translated by Cait Cronin, NKHR Intern
In January 2014, the title of our newsletter was ‘2013 Miracle: Saving 50 North Korean Defectors’; the title in 2015 was ‘Continued Miracle: The Rescue of 50 North Korean Defectors.’ When it was declared at 2015’s general meeting that 100 North Koreans would likely be rescued, we again hoped to express a ‘miracle’ in January 2016. Including the three North Korean refugees who arrived to safety on the night of December 31, in 2015 we were able to rescue 112 North Koreans last year to make that miracle a reality.
The minimum cost of saving one North Korean refugee is 2,000,000won (over USD $1,600), and hiding places must also be arranged. Naturally, this cost is more expensive in locations where escape is difficult. If caught by the police, for instance, more fines are imposed, and rescuing 100 people requires having more than at least 250,000,000won (USD $208,000).
From the beginning of the year there were also times when, flooded by requests for help from North Korean refugees, we were overwhelmed by fundraising and wanted to give up. However, didn’t we say we had to try our best to help in some way! Last May in Vancouver, we invited Superman and Sungju Lee, who shares a close confidence with both the director of the National Unification Advisory Council and its Executive Director Duyeol Kim, to Canada; he opened a path in Korean society for fundraising activities to save North Korean refugees, and so far those donations have exceeded 100,000,000won (over USD $83,000). In June, we were able to raise almost 20,000,000won (over USD $16,5000) through a race campaign run by NKHR’s Rescue Team volunteer group; and we also received contributions from Korean churches in Vienna, Austria; Germany; and the U.S. Of course, we are both very grateful for and thrilled by the wonderful support we received from many people here in Korea as well.
On December 24, six North Korean refugees sent an emergency letter requesting rescue, and, splitting into two groups, set off for the south without rest. One group crossed the border first but sent word that another family of three only arrived to safety on midnight of the 31st, after hiding to repeat their original crossing attempt when strict guards at another borderline were too strict. The family said that in November they (a man with two daughters and his younger sibling’s family of 3) had lost their eldest daughter, sibling, and the sibling’s youngest daughter when crossing a river to escape the police; the river was thinly clouded with ice cold enough to make one’s heart stop. In this way, North Korean refugees are losing their families, skirting the line between life and death even today while crossing the river for freedom. Their dreams are to escape tyranny; to prepare warm meals for their mothers; to be able to run and meet when they miss each other; to raise a comfortable family; to not allow their children to starve. These are regular people who don’t want their offspring to suffer their same hardships.
In 2015 the miracle of 112 North Korean rescues took place: 8 refugees were saved in January; 2 in February; 16 in March; 12 in April; 5 in May; 8 in June; 15 in July; 18 in August; 7 in September; 13 in October; and 7 in December, for a total of 23 children, 7 youths, 66 women and 16 men. They make us realize anew the plain truth that miracles do not suddenly occur; rather, they take place when people of one mind come together and gather their effort to try their best. As we hope for the miracle of being able to save even more North Korean refugees in 2016, it was a challenging fundraising year, and we write this moving message received from one of our supporters:
“You worked hard even during difficult times. You are true angels. We love and respect you.”
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