North Korean defector works with Canadian human rights group to help other refugees

North Korean escapee HanVoice human rights org canada

A North Korean escapee is working with a Canadian nonprofit to help other refugees from the hermit kingdom start a new life in Canada. 

New haven for refugees: Sam Kim, who fled North Korea as a young boy, is serving as a bridge for refugees like himself through a pilot program by HanVoice, an organization advocating North Korean human rights, reported CBC.

  • HanVoice has partnered with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the project which will let Canadians “privately sponsor and resettle certain North Korean refugees.”
  • While the U.S. and South Korea also accept refugees from North Korea, Canada is the only country to facilitate resettlements through private sponsorship.
  • HanVoice executive director Sean Chung said they are now hoping to raise $250,000, which will sponsor five families within two years.
  • “For a group that is fleeing a regime that has deprived them of choice, I think the best thing that we can offer is more choices and where they want to start a life,” Chung was quoted as saying.
  • To enter Canada, individuals endorsed by HanVoice will need to pass immigration admissibility criteria which include “health, criminality and security screening,” according to the IRCC.
  • “Once in Canada, these individuals would be supported by HanVoice for their first year,” the IRCC said in a statement. “HanVoice will be responsible for providing emotional and financial support to applicants and their families.”

Becoming Canadian: The 27-year-old is now a third-year psychology student at York University and a permanent resident in Canada. He said he was able to settle down and get a formal education in his new country due to the help from the Korean community in Toronto.

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  • Kim and his family successfully arrived in Canada in 2007 after two previous failed attempts that resulted in his mother being sent to a labor camp, where she was repeatedly tortured and interrogated.
  • “It’d be amazing to see many North Korean families make it here in Canada and make Canada their home and have that opportunity to enjoy their lives and find that opportunity to flourish,” Kim said.
  • According to HanVoice, 80% of North Korean refugees are women and their children who “are at significant risk of sexual and gender-based violence.”

Those who wish to support HanVoice’s pilot program may donate directly through the group’s website.

Featured Image via HanVoice

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