However, this year’s plan for the ceremony of the defectors of North Koreans collapsed, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Korean government to extend the ban on gathering of five or more people.
A defector with the Park surname said that in previous years, he often made offerings to his ancestors near the Imjin River, near the western inter-Korean border.
“During the Tet holidays, I think a lot about the brothers I have left behind,” said Mr. Park – who crossed the border nearly 18 years ago.
“At the ceremony, we can talk, cry together, look at our homeland in the North and comfort each other. But this year we couldn’t do that, so my nostalgia for my homeland deepened. ”
Another fugitive, surnamed Bang, said last year’s Chinese New Year he made and shared traditional Korean rice cakes with people in the same plight.
“I understand that events were canceled because of the pandemic, but I still can’t help but feel disappointed,” Bang said.
Korean defectors often set up an altar to worship their ancestors and relatives at the border on the occasion of the Lunar New Year. Photo: Yonhap
As of the end of last year, the total number of North Korean defectors living in South Korea was 33,752, according to the Unification Ministry.
Rep. Ji Seong-ho, who is a defector, said he sometimes hears the unhappy news that Koreans commit suicide during the Chinese New Year.
“In this sensitive moment, the more they need direct and indirect support both physically and mentally,” said Mr. Ji.
The Esther Prayer Movement, a religious organization in western Seoul, held a singing contest for the fugitives a few days before the holidays.
Meanwhile, Liberty in North Korea, an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping North Korean refugees, said it plans to play YouTube videos for fugitives to watch on vacation.
According to Yonhap