Court goes easy on mother with a sad tale

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Court goes easy on mother with a sad tale

The Seoul Southern District Court was moved by a mother’s story.

The court said it gave a deferred sentence to a North Korean refugee who faked a marriage to a Chinese man in an effort to bring her daughter from China into South Korea.

“We cannot condemn her illegal acts due to her unavoidable circumstances and we understood her commitment out of maternal love,” the court said in its ruling last week.

In 1998, the woman, surnamed Cho, was living in Hamgyong Province, North Korea and at the time was pregnant.

Cho had left North Korea, crossing the border into China as an international merchant. During this time, an event occurred that changed her life in ways she could never have imagined.

A Chinese trafficker blocked Cho from returning to North Korea. Cho and her daughter, who was born while she was held in China, were forced to live with the trafficker for 10 years.

To get out of the hands of the Chinese man, Cho lied to him, telling him that she would take him and her daughter to South Korea if she went ahead and obtained refugee status first. The Chinese man finally allowed her to fly to South Korea and she was able to receive refugee status. She also reported her situation to Korean authorities.

But her real intention for seeking help from Korean authorities and returning to China was to take her daughter back with her to South Korea. In February 2009, Cho returned to China without her “husband” knowing, and took her daughter from in front of her school.

After the mother and daughter were reunited and had successfully returned to South Korea, she decided to confess to the police that her marriage report was not true. By doing so, she hoped that her daughter would be able to live her life in a new country, without any records of the fake father.

Cho was charged 3 million won ($2,670) in fines as punishment.

“I made a false report of marriage even though I did not intend to get married to the Chinese man,” the mother told the police in Aug. 2009.

The court said in its ruling, “We tried to be generous as much as we can for the mother, understanding her exceptional case. We think that it is right to give a new chance to the mother and the daughter who had suffered adversity in China and finally settled in South Korea, rather than punishing them.”

Cho will not be placed on probation unless she commits any further crimes for the designated period.

After the judgment, Cho said, “I will make a happy life with my daughter.”


By Shim Seo-hyeon [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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