Tuesday, August 18, 2009

North Korean defectors weighed down with fears and angst

None of the North Korean defectors that arrive at Hanowan in Seoul have a clear idea of what career to pursue, according to Gwak, the principal.

He said they come to school, instead, with fears that often overwhelm their ability to concentrate: They are afraid that someone will harm them, that someone will punish their family in North Korea, that they will fail in South Korea.

"These things really weigh them down," Gwak said. "When they start to make progress, they feel guilty. One hundred percent of the time, when you throw a birthday party for these young people, they cry for the family they left behind."

Their long-term ambitions, he said, are easy to explain: "They want to eat warm rice with their families again."

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