SEOUL, Dec.24 (Korea Bizwire) – Four Myanmarese families who were living at a refugee camp in Thailand entered Incheon Airport on December 23. It was the first time that refugees entered the country in the two years since the refugee act was passed.
Around 20 government authorities who came to greet the refugees handed over flowers and down jackets to the families.
Ku Tu (44), who came to Korea with his wife, five children and nephew, expressed his gratitude on entering the country.
Ku Tu entered the Mera Refugee camp in Thailand with his wife and daughter in 1993 to escape discrimination at the hand of the military junta.
Life in the refugee camp was hard. Most of the inhabitants lived in houses made of leaves, and the streets were surfaced with bamboo and dirt.
Camp dwellers were also prohibited from leaving the site. However, the refugees had to go outside the camp to earn money, as the payment for working a day inside the camp was only 150 baht, which is equivalent to 6,000 won.
Ku Tu had to sneak out of the camp to earn money at a nearby logging mill, and lost his legs in a landmine accident in 2006.
At first, seven families (38 people) were recommended by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
However, two families did not show up for a procedural interview, and one family did not pass qualification as they seemed to have little will to start a new life in Korea.
The members of the four families that were selected showed excitement about their new lives, speaking about their dreams to start new vocations as a carpenter, farmer and teacher.
Authorities commented that the families pondered a lot before selecting Korea to start a new life, but the biggest reason that made them select Korea was because of their children’s education. “The four families have high hopes for their lives in Korea, and are very willing to educate their children well.”
The families will go to a refugee center in Incheon, and for the first six to 12 months they will reside at an immigration and foreign support center, learning the language, laws and customs of Korea.
After the education period is over, they will select the regions they will settle in with the help from the Karen Community in Pocheon and religious organizations.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)