Aid workers estimate that there are about 2,000 “defector orphans” in China, where North Korean defectors live in hiding, mostly driven over the border to look for food and work.
Some orphans are the children of defectors born in North Korea who crossed the border with their parents, only to lose touch with them in China.
Some underground orphanages take in ethnic Korean children or those from mixed Chinese-Korean background, some of whom are the stateless offspring of North Korean defector women and local Chinese men. These “Stateless orphans” are born out of relationships between North Korean women and Chinese men, with their mothers subsequently deported to North Korea.
They are currently believed to number 10,000-20,000, and are unable to get an education because they lack official Chinese papers. Late registration of children without papers costs U.S. $750, around three times the monthly salary of the average Chinese person, aid workers said.