Ten-year-old Han Li was living on the streets with complete strangers in northeastern China this time last year. Her mother and father fled North Korea into China with Han in 2015 and later, her parents were captured by the Chinese immigration police known as “Gong-An” and taken back to North Korea. The sad reality is that Han is just one of thousands of orphaned North Korean children now living under the radar in China and nearly all of their deported parents will never be seen or heard from again.
Between 100,000 and 400,000 North Koreans are estimated to be living illegally in northeastern China today with no refugee status or access to any public services and resources. This means no school enrollment for the children or any of the basic rights afforded to many other migrants and refugees throughout the world. As a result, thousands of children are now de facto orphans…An estimated 70% of North Koreans living illegally in China are women and a large number were sold to Chinese men by human traffickers.
Getting back to Han, she was literally rescued off the streets by a Chinese good Samaritan working for an agency running a news story on North Korean street children in China. She was brought to Do-Chon orphanage in Yanji-City where she has recently been adopted into a forever home by a local school teacher who volunteers for the home. Han is one of the truly lucky children forgotten and left behind by the North Korean migrant crisis. She is settling in well to her new home and has a bright future ahead of her!