Home > North Korean Human Rights > Studying with a mission to help other fellow North Korean Defectors

Studying with a mission to help other fellow North Korean Defectors

Moonhee Kim

Fighting all odds in assimilating to life in South Korean as a North Korean defector, Park, Jung-Soon only looked forward and studied with a mission to help fellow defectors.

The Yangcheon Love Welfare Center was founded by Park Jung-Soon on January 29, 2011. The center is comprised of a counseling center and a shelter for those who have nowhere to go.

Park crossed Tumen River to bring her second daughter back to North Korea from China in January of 2004. She was shocked to find that her daughter decided to go to South Korea via a Chinese broker. “Since I only taught students about negative points of South Korea, I had no idea about real aspects of South Korea. I finally decided to go to South Korea after a week of taking pains because of my first daughter who was left in North Korea,” said Park, who worked as an elementary school teacher in North Korea.

Park was raised as a daughter of a high-ranking official in North Korea, receiving higher education in the education field. She worked as a consultant for teenagers before she got married. After she got married at the age of 26, she started to teach at a school. Through experiences in North Korea, she started volunteering as a counselor for North Korean defectors in South Korea at ‘The Korea Protestant Council for the North Korean defectors resettlement program.’

“North Korean defectors in South Korea, who are not familiar with South Korean culture, are easily exposed to fraud, family violence, and sexual violence,” said Park. “I decided to become a social welfare expert after counseling immigrants from North Korea who are in my shoes,” Park added.

To achieve her goal, Park studied, volunteered, and tutored for seven years, sleeping an average of two hours a day. She started by finishing a course in psychological counseling at Life line Korea, and graduated from Gukje Digital University, majoring in social welfare. She earned her master’s degree in social welfare at Daehan Christian University. According to the director of Seoul Love Life, Kim In-Sook, “Park doggedly studied every single day to the point she was carried to the hospital by ambulance.” In addition, Park made a living by tutoring elementary school students.

Through Park’s seven year effort, she was finally able to establish a welfare center. Being the first welfare center in South Korea established by a North Korean defector, it had significant meaning to other North Korean defectors. Kim Il-Joo, the chairman of North Korean Refugees Foundation and 40 other North Korean defectors participated in the opening of the center, expecting much for the center.

In addition, Park plans to train professional counselors among North Korean defectors. Kim Sun-Joo (31, name changed for protection), who came to South Korea in 2009 said, “after defection from North Korea in 2002, I got married with a Chinese man and gave birth to two children. I’m worried every day since I couldn’t bring them to South Korea.” Kim added, “It would be great if there are a number of counselors among North Korean defectors who are familiar with our situation.”

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