The Hanawon Resettlement Center in Seoul is marking a milestone this year. Since the end of the Korean war, twenty thousand North Korean refugees have escaped from one of the most oppressive regimes in the world and resettled in the peninsula’s liberal, democratic south. The Center receives all North Korean refugees, and places them in special language, culture, and education programs so that they can successfully integrate into society. Although the refugee numbers are impressive, the Hanawon Center also knows the bitter truth: most who manage to escape from ‘worker’s paradise’ end up caught in a Chinese finger trap, and only the lucky few ever make it to South Korea.
With the west and east cut off by coastline and the south heavily guarded along the DMZ, the Russian-Chinese corridor is all that remains as a passage for escape. Although some refugees have made it to the South Korean Consulate in Vladivostok, the small Russian border is often heavily guarded on both sides, leaving only the expansive Chinese border. With maps long ago classified as military secrets by...More >>