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Two Years Of Hidden Efforts By "People to Save Gil-Su`s Family North Korean Refugees"

Two Years Of Hidden Efforts By "People to Save Gil-Su`s Family North Korean Refugees"

Posted June. 27, 2001 09:27,   


It was Tuesday when Jang Gil-Su family was reported to have requested for the asylum to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Beijing. Hwang Jae-Il (28), an executive secretary of a group called `People to Save Gil-Su’s Family North Korean Refugees` located in Naeja Dong, Jongro Ku, Seoul, called for a help to bring Gil-Su family to South Korea. The group was established in August 1999 by Moon Gook-Han to help the safe passage of Gil-Su’s family to South Korea. When a former businessman Moon Gook-Han visited Yemen for the China related trade, he heard about Gil-Su family’s miserable situation from a Korean-Chinese Mr. Choi (44). It was pointed that if the North Korean defectors were revealed, they would be placed in a more dangerous situation. However, the group was inaugurated under the judgment that the only way to save this family is to `make known their existence` to the world.

Since then, Moon visited China once a month and delivered the donations collected from South Korea for the support of their life. Kim Dong-Kyu, North Korean Studies professor in Korea University and representative of the group, also helped for the exhibition of Gil-Su’s drawings and the media report.

The executive secretary of the group Hwang said, ``When the surveillance of the Chinese government became intensified or there was no means of making a living, Gil-Su used to call us. I felt sad because there was nothing much I can do except to say that we are trying our best.`` It was not easy to manage the group as well. An anecdote during the `1999 Seoul NGO World Convention` in October 1999 illustrates the difficulty of managing the group. Since the group missed the time to apply for exhibition, the group just went to the convention center to exhibit the drawings of Gil-Su. However, when they exhibited the drawings, the convention officials requested for the withdrawal of the exhibition. Moon recalled this time saying, ``Gil-Su’s `Pine Tree and Crane` along with a message that says `I miss the free crane` was exhibited at the corner of an empty space of the convention center because it was not officially registered. However, it became an opportunity to draw the public opinion with regard to the North Korean defectors since Gil-Su’s drawing created a great response.``

The story of Gil-Su family and the miserable condition of the North Korean defectors created great repercussions as they were introduced in the U.S. Newsweek, the British Channel 4, and other TV channels. However, their passages to South Korea are still far away. ``Surveillance has become intensified and the intentional support has become impossible. The only hope is to appeal to the UN organizations and the humanitarian spirit.``