Saturday, May 9, 2015

Refugees Transition to Life in the South

Presently 70% of the refugees in South Korea are women from North Korea. Most of them  did not directly come to the South but because of hunger went to China before coming to Korea. In China the women's stay was not without problems. At the request of the North Korean government, the Chinese police frequently round up the North Koreans, and forcibly send them back to the North.

Two articles in the Catholic Times mention the problems with the refugees in the South. Refugees arriving in the South enter Hanawon a government institution that is home for them for three months. They are educated in the ways of the South and given a resettlement payment and housing assistance. It is during this period at Hanawon they  are introduced to religion but most of them have other interests mainly the family they left behind in the North, and how to get them to the South.

One woman mentions she first heard about Catholicism while at Hanawon but it was two years later, after her son joined her in the South, that she was baptized with her son.

An article mentions a survey made by the  bishops' committee for the reconciliation of the Korean people, and it shows that a little over one present of the refugees become Catholic, and of these 80% of the refugees after baptism have either abandoned the faith or find it difficult living the faith.

Making a living is their biggest obstacle,and religion for many, is no help. The teaching and Confession are big problems. They see it as a good but the obligations are too many. Need is seen for parishes to have an interest in these refugees, and make them feel at home; God-parents especially concerned with their God-children.

One priest mentioned in comparison with other religious groups, becoming a Catholic is complicated, and is a deterrent to many who show an interest. The article concluded with the need for the parishioners to become familiar with the problems of the North, and to understand the alienation the refugees feel, and work to understand and be with them in the transition to life in the South.

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