North Korean refugees in Toronto carry burden of fear (Toronto Star)

by Mary Ormsby and Leslie Scrivener, Toronto Star, 30 April 2012

will not have their faces photographed. They will not disclose their names. (Aaron Harris/Toronto Star)

Three unidentified North Korean immigrants in a Toronto church (Photo by Aaron Harris, Toronto Star)

The three North Korean women will not have their faces photographed. They will not disclose their names.

But certain things they will reveal. How they ground tree bark and cooked it into a thin gruel for food. How they were sold to brokers to work as maids or “unofficial wives” in China. How starving neighbours — children as well as adults — were executed for stealing even a morsel of meat.

“Our lives meant nothing,” one of them says. “We were like flies.”

The fear that propelled the women to flee the brutality of their homeland clings to them as refugees in Toronto, terrified their freedom in Canada will mean death to family and friends in North Korea, which calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

That may explain why some, like 13-year-old Sol Han, reported missing from a local shelter this week, melt away into the broader GTA population. Maybe never to be heard from again. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: