I visited Refuge P-Nan (피난처) to meet with three of the political refugees living there and meet with their hard working staff and a group of student volunteers. A total of eight political refugees live on site and there are education programs for other refugees in Korea as well. I was greeted by the director Lee Hotaek (이호택) who showed me around and explained me how the number of people applying for refugee status in Korea has increased rapidly and how the members of Refuge P-Nan work to help refugees settle into Korean culture and also to raise awareness among Koreans about the importance of supporting refugees. Director Lee told me that Korea was the first Asian country to pass a law on refugees and that although the numbers of refugees who are admitted is still low, that Korea has now surpassed Japan.
I spoke about my experiences as a foreigner in Korea and also discussed how war and climate change will make refugee issues central in this century.
I agreed that I would give talks for refugees in the future and make an effort to contribute to their projects. I feel strongly that the best way to avoid feeling sorry for oneself about the difficulties of living in a foreign country is to work together with people who face far greater challenges.
The outside of Refuge P-Nan
Photos from a Refuge P-Nan demonstration
with Refuge P-Nan staff
With Lee Ho-taek