Please Don’t Send the 35 Refugees Back to North Korea!

Long-winded title? That’s exactly what protestors in the South are calling for.

First of all, I will reveal my personal bias towards protestors. They only add to the noise, and block everyone’s traffic. Protesting in South Korea is the safest option, but your message doesn’t get across to China, and thus would only be relegated to the domestic audience –ineffective. Second of all, a message like:

May be well-intentioned, and tries to convey the message across to the Chinese, by directly translating the Sino-Korean “Stop Sending [them: the refugees] back North”, Chinese viewers would be confused as to what the message means. Why? Because the message is highly condensed into 4 characters, which fits neatly into a proverb. However, proverbs are usually derived from a deeper context from historical texts, poems, or social phenomenons of the past. Because the North Korea-refugees affect China differently, to the average Chinese, this would take bit of guessing. Thus, the meaning, and its message is rendered ineffective, by being Lost in Translation.

Maybe if the protestors would protest in China instead. That’ll get their attention! No not quite. The people who are angry at other people holding up ambiguous signs and blocking traffic, will only go from being Korean, to being Chinese. That, and the protestors will probably be taken down by the police and straight to jail, because the Chinese “don’t take that shit, dey keepz it real!”

If the South Korean government was serious about taking in these refugees, they would actually do something about it. They won’t because more refugees becomes more of a burden on the South Korean economy. Yet, they aren’t even willing to follow former President Kim, Dae-Jung‘s plan of a step-by-step reunification which required boosting North Korea’s economy, and actually using market methods to increase the livelihoods of North Koreans, hence stopping the refugee onslaught. So what’s the next best thing?

South Korean NGOs in China should find an economic incentive to stop China from returning refugees to North Korea, where they will be placed in an internment camp, sentenced to a life of endless labor and starvation. Right now, China has every incentive to send them back. I never buy into the “They took our jobs” excuse, but that’s one of the reasons China is sending them back. How do you prevent this misperception? Naturally, having illegal immigrants in ones country shows a sign of instability, and fights for resources insue. China has no incentive whatsoever to allow the refugees to remain in their country, nor hand them over to the South.

I will admit my naïvité on how the South Korean NGOs in China are run, but is here no way to find an economic incentive to provide the Chinese government in handing over the refugees to the South? China may be North Korea’s ally, but North Korea is like that little sister you never wanted, and is constantly tagging alongside, but not playing along, making a huge stink of everything. If the South Korean government isn’t willing to help the NGOs in shelling out this cash, maybe they should put in a real effort into restarting North-South relations, and reviving activity at the KaeSong Joint Industrial Complex.

Then of course, regardless of whether or not the refugees end up in South Korea, this doesn’t stop the issues their families left behind in the North will face from authtorities, such as blackmail, and bribes. The constant threat of being sent to jail just for being related to someone who escaped the North, has these families being extorted and exploited:


13=阝12=口 J=丁 (阿)
L=氵 Z=工 (江)
–1312JLZ (阿江)
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