Sunday, July 19, 2009

North Koreans - Down To Cornhusks

North Korea's refugees have been found in many locations of China. Refugees International has interviewed many of these poor souls. I give the summary of a conversation held between an RI representative and a recently escaped North Korean refugee.

This victim is a 27-year-old man who came from Undok, North Korea, to China in June of '03. As with all the refugees, his chances of survival in North Korea had come to the near-zero mark. So he left parents and siblings and made the trip by himself into an all new world.

His first impression of China was the stark contrast between it and his home country. How prosperous the Chinese! Then he began wondering what he will do in this foreign land. His family members are farmers. At least they work for farmers, much like slaves on the old southern plantations of the United States worked for farmers, and were "permitted" to live so they could keep prospering the farmers. His family of six was allowed to keep only 150 kilograms of food... per year. That includes the cornhusks. That's 330 pounds divided by 6, or 55 pounds each. If my math isn't faulty, that's one pound of food per week. Just ounces per day.

This gentleman claims there is no other way to get food. He says that if they don't finish planting, and don't have enough food, the manager will give them a little corn and allow them to buy some food. But if they have no money to buy food, they can't expect the manager to show any generosity in terms of cash.

So it's off to the mountains, to join the many other desperate North Korean souls who are collecting medicinal plants to sell in the market place. This is seasonal work, up to half of the year. It's possible to collect maybe a kilogram in a day of working. 2 pounds. 2 pounds will sell for 450 won. In today's market, that's about 50 cents a day.

Speaking of medicine, three of his family members have serious illness. But there is no serious medicine available. Even if there were, they have no money. And they can't sell their goods for some quick cash because they have no goods.

What does this family have? Hope. It seems that there are varying degrees of hope in North Korea. One hope that this family has latched onto is the outbreak of war and the subsequent changing of the status quo. Things cannot remain as they are. For one thing, the aid being sent in by well-meaning donors is being diverted to those who need it much less than these northeastern farmers. "Everybody knows this," he says.

Tonight let us be grateful for all God has richly supplied to us, and work toward being sure all our brothers and sisters in Jesus are equally blessed. is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.

Goal Setting For Success

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