North Korean defectors living in Toronto are pleading for a chance to stay in Canada after receiving letters that their residency applications may be rejected. The notices are said to be coming after the North Korean defectors told a different story to refugee board officials.
Hyekyung Jo, a North Korean defector living with her family in Toronto, received a letter informing them that their permanent residency application could be cancelled. She is one of as many as 50 North Korean families living in the Greater Toronto Area that have recently received the letter. They are facing deportation not to North Korea but to South Korea.
South Korea immediately grants North Koreans citizenship and that’s one of the issues that Canada has identified in many of the applications. Canada considers South Korea a safe place for those escaping North Korea. The other issue is that some of the families have recently admitted that they didn’t tell the truth when they arrived to Canada. Jo recently said at a news conference that they had told Canadian officials that they had traveled from China. But she and her family had lived in South Korea for years before moving to Canada.
Another person affected by this is Taegun Kim, who recently spoke to Global News. Kim, a North Korean defector living in Toronto, is also facing deportation to South Korea. He has been living in Canada for 11 years and says he would not like to be deported to South Korea because they treat them like garbage. Kim’s story is similar to Jo’s, he lived in South Korea for five years and did not tell Canadian officials about that. Kim says he was told by others to lie because his application would be denied if he revealed that he lived in South Korea.
Kim’s story is also a little different from the rest as he says he wasn’t planning to leave the country permanently. He says he had crossed the border to China to find food but had to escape when he and his companions were spotted by North Korean military. They ran as they feared they would get killed by them. Kim lived in China for four years and in 2002, he got to the South Korean consulate. His arrival to South Korea with a few other North Koreans made international news. He says the North Korean government saw the news and authorities captured his parents and tortured them. He was later called by a human smuggler, who told him his parents had died.
Kim is married and has two children, who were born in Canada. He is one of a few that have admitted to not telling the true story on his application but wants to remain in the country because they feel accepted there.