Sunday, May 23, 2010

LAT on North Korean defectors running for office in the South

Though I personally ascribe no negative meaning to any of them, I've been chastised for using the words and phrases defector, resettled/resettler, and former refugee to refer to those who have escaped the Pyongyang regime and found a new life in South Korea, so I'll just go with what the Los Angeles Times uses in their article on former DPRK citizens who have dropped the DP and are running for office in the ROK:
Years after fleeing North Korea, most of the 20,000 defectors living here remain fearful of publicly revealing their identities as they continue their adjustment to a democratic political system.

Choi Hae-yeon, 45, is seeking to change that. Choi, a mother of two who fled in 2004, is one of three North Koreans running for political office in upcoming South Korean elections. They are the first three defectors ever backed by a significant party to run for office here.

As tensions intensify between the two nations after the March sinking of a South Korean navy ship, the candidacies in the June 2 vote are a sign, many here say, that Northern newcomers are attempting to put their troubled pasts behind to better blend into Southern society.

"I am happy that I can get my words out," Choi said. "It is another basic right equivalent to working and studying freely … which we cannot have in North Korea."
Much is said in the K-blogs and in South Korean society in general about the negative experiences former North Koreans routinely encounter in the South, from deep suspicion to non-acceptance to a lack of connections or understanding of how the South's English-drenched balli-balli culture works. So for me, that's why it's a welcome sight to see this next stage in the evolution of their community's integration into the larger ROK society.

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