According to South Korea's Ministry of Unification, more than 31,000 North Korean refugees have escaped to South Korea since the late 1990s. Overall, 71 percent of them are females, and the trend is even higher. In 2017, about 83 percent of them who arrived in South Korea are females. As has been reported by various reporters and organizations, many of them were victims of sex trafficking or sold as wives in China as they were escaping to freedom.
In addition to the challenges they have as immigrants to a new country and as women settling in a new male-dominated society, those who are mothers have children they brought from North Korea or China, or had after arriving in South Korea. Like mothers everywhere, they focus on their children, making them the priority rather than developing themselves.
For a few years now, TNKR has been considering ways to help North Korean refugee mothers who would sometimes drop out of our program because of childcare issues.
We recently received a grant for our proposal to set up a project offering Skype tutoring for North Korean refugee mothers who cannot easily commute for face-to-face tutoring in English. The grant is good for three months, we would like to raise more funding for this project to keep it going in the future and to also provide some support for TNKR to administer this project (all of the grant money is going directly to the program, meaning the program cannot continue beyond the current three-month allocation).
If we can keep this project going, we would like to expand it so that the project can also support occasional face-to-face tutoring sessions by tutors who can visit refugees near their homes. We have other additions in mind that could continue providing support for North Korean refugee mothers adjusting to living in South Korea while also raising their children.