Children of defectors in dire straits in China

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Children of defectors in dire straits in China

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea raised a red flag yesterday about the alarming human rights situation facing children born in China to North Korean defector mothers and Chinese men.

In statements issued to the ministries of foreign affairs and unification, the commission said it found 71 of 100 such young children are living without their mothers in a 2012 survey.

Forced deportations by the North Korean regime, apparently aided by Chinese authorities, led to 36 kids being separated from their mothers, while 31 moms seemed to have left of their own volition.

“Among North Korean women defectors, forced deportation and fear of forced deportation are the main factors that undermine the well-being of the children and disrupt the proper protection that they deserve,” Kim Jae-seok, an official of the commission, told the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Out of the 31 mothers that left, 12 made their way into South Korea. Only 21 out of the 71 kids who were left behind have managed to keep in contact with their mothers. The polled children varied in ages from 7 to 17. They were an average age of 4.7 when their mothers were forcibly deported.

The independent state-run body called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to make active diplomatic efforts to end the forced repatriations, given the adverse effect that they have on children. It also asked the Minister of Unification to support refugee children born in China in the same way that it supports those born in North Korea.

Most North Korean defectors fleeing the oppressive regime that controls their country cross the border into China as part of a roundabout route to seek eventual asylum in South Korea. The plight of defectors includes dire scenarios such as exploitation for labor and sex trafficking.

The commission estimated that there are anywhere between 10,000 and 60,000 children born to Chinese men and North Korean mothers. Of those, around 4,000 are thought to be living in welfare centers operated by South Korean religious organizations. They are taken in after being abandoned by their parents and relatives.

But the commission official added that a significant number of children are unaccounted for.

“We believe that there are many children requiring protection in China who live on the street after being abandoned or separated from their parents,” Kim said.



BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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