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Refugees who escape from North Korea

consistently testify to a severe humanitarian crisis.

1 in 3 North Koreans are malnourished, while

freedom of speech, movement, or information is violently suppressed.

Refugees risk death, sexual trafficking, and torture to escape.

North Korean refugees

risk death, torture, and sexual trafficking to escape to South Korea.

"I still remember the underground tunnels headed from China to Mongolia ... we finally arrived at one of the borders. It was midnight and there were searchlights everywhere ...we had already paid [the guards] but I was still terrified – what if they had changed their minds? What if they decided on a whim that they’d shoot us like they shoot passing animals?

... The 11 people I was traveling with all got captured during our escape ... I’m the only one here.”


– J. Park (Escaped in 2013)

Even after they arrive, challenges in resettlement remain.

Many survivors arrive with PTSD or depression, and struggle with loneliness in their day-to-day lives.

More generally, the extremely fast-paced environment and cultural differences in South Korea can be daunting for refugees who are trying to make a home for themselves in a new place.

"We've been born and raised ... with no food, no capitalism, no democracy. Most of us ended up in a limbo somewhere in China, Mongolia, or other countries for several years - sometimes as sex workers, other times as menial laborers.

We came to South Korea with not only hope and willingness to make a better future but also

a broken body, a broken mind,

guilt, fear, anger, and isolation.

It's been difficult to address these ... by myself."


– M. Kim, 2008

Through counseling, scholarships, medical services, and job training, Saejowi assists refugees in "building a beginning" in South Korea.

We offer not only immediate medical and financial support,

but also long-term emotional and psychological growth.

Our assistance aims to be both sustainable and genuinely sympathetic, so that refugees can find a family in Saejowi.

We believe in their possibility, and it's our mission to help them realize their full potential!

"Adjusting to the development, economy, democracy, the different language ... It's nothing compared to the discrimination. People see us simply as starved, unclothed, uneducated, and uncivilized. Of course, they're partly right:

most North Koreans are short on

food, clothes,and education.

But we've risked our lives for a better future.

We're willing to work harder than anyone for it."

– A. Paik, 2014

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