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Students share time with defectors

A group of high school students has been making regular visits to North Korean defectors who are patients at the National Medical Center, and offering their friendship.

The students of the N.K. Aid club of the Seoul Global High School come to the medical center once a week to talk to the defectors, who rarely have visitors as many of them left their families behind in the North. 
Kim Seung-hyun, a student of the Seoul Global High School, talks to a North Korean patient at the National Medical Center. (Yonhap News)
Kim Seung-hyun, a student of the Seoul Global High School, talks to a North Korean patient at the National Medical Center. (Yonhap News)

The patients said the students have been a great comfort for them. A defector, identified only by her surname Park, said: “It was my first time talking to young students in South Korea. I feel thankful for them, and they have beautiful, kind hearts.”

Kim Seung-hyun, 17, formed the N.K. Aid school club with his friends. Last year, he read an article about a Korean-American student, teaching English to defectors, and decided to join an organization providing support for defectors to settle in their new society.

He has volunteered at “The Organization for One Korea,” and helped to set up an English website and translated defectors’ Korean letters into English.

Then he began to visit the National Medical Center with his school friends this April.

About 15-20 North Korean patients are treated each day at the medical center as it provides support for medical bills and professional counseling.

Some defectors said the young South Korean students reminded them of their sons and daughters in North Korea. Although it’s heart-breaking to think about those left in the North, they told the visiting students to “be good to your parents” and “study hard” ― phrases they have not been able to say to their own children directly.

“I feel like North and South Korea are one when they tell me those words which my parents tell me, too,” said Kim.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)
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