About ten years ago, on April 15, 2006, 6 North Korean refugees safely crossed the Mekong River at the Laotian-Thai border. 2 male and 4 females all in their 20s and 30s were crossing the border on the “Day of the Sun,” the most important holiday of North Korea, which celebrates Kim Il Sung’s birthday. It was God’s grace that it was pouring heavily. They arrived at the New York, JFK Airport on May 5, 2006.
The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 was the first legislation in the world for the North Koreans, it provides humanitarian aids to North Koreans and helps them settle in the US as refugees. These six were the first to be accepted in the US as North Korean refugees since the Act was passed. Refugees seeking a new way of life is not a new thing, for many, many years there have been people seeking refuge all over the U.S. for example, after the world wars there were people who could not go home so they settled in other areas, and now families are able to investigate where they ended up by using resources like genealogybank.com. Our only hope is that those who sought solace throughout the years were able to settle in a better place as these refugees did.
With the six Durihana members as the first settlers, there are 197 that have settled in the US as of now. 118 are female and 79 are male. By age group, 56 were in their 30s, 49 in their 20s, 33 in their 40s. There were 30 people that were between 14 and 20 years old and 19 who were younger than 14. 8 were between 51-64 years old and 2 were older than 65.
27 North Koreans refugees have settled in California and Southern Kentucky each, 20 in New York, 18 in Colorado, 16 in Utah and 15 each in Virginia and Arizona. They also live throughout the US in Illinois (14), Washington (8), Texas (7), Georgia (6), Florida (5), Maryland (5), North Carolina (2), Idaho (2), Oregon (1) and Indiana (1). 97 of them have graduated high school, consisting about half of those settled in the US, 29 have graduated college and 11 have graduated technical schools. This means that about 70% of the total have received more than a high school education.
I applaud the 197 pioneers who have settled in the land of opportunity and freedom and wish that they settle well and enjoy their lives. I hope that they will become the key players for the unified Korea. Gratefully,