Translated by Kelly Choi
Koreans can lead helping North Korean Defectors, and Local Koreans Gathered to Help
Bi Ya Han helped in a large way to purchase a threshing machine by hosting a fundraising dinner for North Korean defectors at the Francisco church before she leaves Boston.
The fundraising dinner was held last Friday at Gaya restaurant at 6:30 PM, and roughly 60 Koreans gathered to support North Korean defectors. Funds amounting to around $5,000 were raised and handed to Father Kim Franchisco, who is well known as the father of helping North Koreans to defect.
Father Kim was banished from China for running a farm to help North Korean defectors. He decided to attend the event after hearing about it in New York. With this financial assistance, he was able to purchase a threshing machine.
Father Kim showed his appreciation, and mentioned that he is just another servant of God, like any other. “I will deliver this to them. I will do my best to help them, as you desire.”
The gathering was hosted by Bi Ya Han and some local Koreans, but it was actually begun by the young adult group of Boston Korean Catholic Church last March.
The young adult group raised funds through a Christmas pageant for purchasing a threshing machine for Father Kim, who has been helping North Korean defectors, and requested support from Han. Around $5,000 was raised during the event, which was not enough to buy a threshing machine, which costs $15,000.
Last May, Han gave a lecture for local Koreans at St. John’s Church, where she raised $3,000 to help North Korean defectors.
However, the amount raised still fell short of the goal, so Han donated $3,000 of her own money. So Han and Eun-Han Kim, a former president of Korean American Citizens League, planned to host a “fundraising dinner with Bi Ya Han” to raise more money.
With $5,000 of money raised that day, the dream of purchasing a threshing machine, which had been conceived of last December, finally came to fruition. According to Father Kim, the threshing machine will require only one tenth of the labour currently needed.
Father Kim used Power Point photo slides to share what North Korean defectors face with attendees.
The photos of North Koreans, whose toes were frost-bitten after crossing the Aprok river in temperatures 40 degrees below Celsius, and who had femurs fractured by bullets, and whose bodies were emaciated and whose faces were expressionless, elicited sighs from Koreans attending the event.
Han later showed a video of her volunteer work which depicts the reality of life lived at the margins of world and children struggling with starvation, images which looked not unlike North Korea.
Attendees of the event solemnly observed that North Korea does not receive aid from World Vision, and emphasized that only Koreans can help them. Although the gift of one thresher is not a panacea, the event attendees hoped it would serve to illuminate the path toward additional help from our neighbors.
The event attendees also motioned to make the event an annual one.
Han said that while she was happy to host this event, she hoped others would continue the tradition of hosting future events in her place.