A Helping Friend For North Korean Defectors

  • 위드파렛트
  • 대한민국
  • #Employment
    #Human Rights

A Helping Friend For North Korean Defectors

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When he became a defector in 2009, Mr. Cheol-Min Kim was only 16 years old. Having been brought up in a wealthy family in North Korea, he recalls the days leading up to his defection as unspeakably difficult.

When Cheol-Min was 12, his father’s business started failing. And with it, his family also started to suffer. With his father becoming a defector to earn money, Cheol-Min started working with his mother to earn enough to scrape by. He wanted to rest and play with his friends, but the situation did not allow it. Cheol-Min eventually arrived in South Korea with the help of his father

Source: NEWSIS  

Cheol-Min fit into his new life well. He could study all he wanted, and eventually made it into college. During that time, he said that he had seen a lot of things. While he worked part-time for his living expenses, he saw his colleagues being troubled with office hours. When he got his first job after graduation, he was forced into long work shifts and unpaid overtime.

“When I crossed the border in November, 2009, all I had brought from North Korea was courage and my fighting spirit. I thought that I would be able to study freely and do what I like in South Korea. Even after living in South Korea for a while, I realized that I still had a long way ahead.”

Having left North Korea at a relatively early age, Cheol-Min felt he still had many obstacles ahead of him. Soon he thought of other defectors. If he was having this much trouble, how much more difficult would it be for other North Korean defectors? He started to dream of a company where everyone could work happily, regardless of their nationality. Eventually his goal became an entrepreneur that would make his dream come true.

When Cheol-Min’s dreams of starting his own business became certain, he saw an opportunity. He was able to take over a wooden pallet business with the help of his friend. Being the owner of his own business was both extremely difficult, but also very rewarding.

“To be an entrepreneur as a defect in South Korea is to become Superman. It was tough at first. I felt lonely and tired all the time. But if you can turn those hardships into your own strength, you eventually become Superman.”

Cheol-Min’s business, WithPallet, is reusing wood to create high quality products at a lower price. Cheol-Min’s vision is to make WithPallet a company that employees are thrilled to work in, and a place for North Korean defectors to find a decent job.

“A lot of defectors do not have stable jobs. All of them are hard-working and honest, but blending into South Korea is still hard for them. The future of WithPallet is to grow into a stable company and offer stable and reliable jobs to them.”

Cheol-Min says that the most important virtue for his business is employment. He believes that employment is what brings color to life, and is what binds people together to live together. Join Cheol-Min’s vision of becoming an oasis for North Korean defectors!

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