Participants in the World Refugee Day events in Seoul on Saturday pose for a picture during the celebrations. (Refugee Support Network of Korea)
More than 10 refugee rights groups joined up on Saturday to commemorate World Refugee Day. The Refugee NGO’s Network held an information event and flash mob ahead of the international refugee day, which falls on June 20.
The groups were also celebrating the passage of South Korea’s long-awaited Refugee Act. The Korean Refugee Act was enacted this Feb. 10 and will take effect July 1, 2013, confirming the rights of refugees that must be protected here.
Many problems with South Korea’s refugee system have been noted since the country began receiving refugees 20 years ago. Of the OECD countries, South Korea has the lowest rate of granting refugee status. Its investigative procedures have also been criticized for lacking the speed, transparency and impartiality to sufficiently safeguard the rights of refugees. Asylum seekers in South Korea are deprived of the means to work to maintain their livelihood, often forcing them into illegal employment.
On Saturday, students joined Bangladeshi and Congolese refugees who are living in Korea for a refugee remembrance event at the Waterside Plaza in Yeoiudo’s Han River Park.
The flash mob took place at the Han River Park Waterside Plaza, in front of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, and in T2 Park in front of the Korean Tourism Organization. Refugee activists, students, parents and refugees formed the 140-strong dance group to perform Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” and Yurisangja’s “Beautiful World.”