South Korea does not consider children who are half North Korean and half Chinese as refugees. But these young people face many problems that refugees from North Korea do. They have a difficult time integrating into South Korean society.
To tell their stories, The Associated Press recently talked to some of the children, their North Korean mothers, teachers, experts, and government officials.
In the 1990s, thousands of North Korean women fled their homeland. They went to China in search of food and work. Many women were sold to Chinese farmers as brides, before fleeing again and moving to South Korea.
Many of the women's children are now reaching adulthood.
One woman’s story
One example is 19-year-old Song Hong Ryon. She looks like any other young woman in South Korea. But three years after her arrival from China, she has made only two South Korean-born friends.
Song says she has often been hurt by little things, like when people ask if she is from China. “I’ve agonized about it a lot by myself,” she said.
Many of the North Korean mothers lived in China in fear of being captured and sent back to the North. When they made the trip to South Korea, they often left their children in China.
The lucky ones, after getting jobs and saving money in South Korea, helped their children and husbands travel to the country. But some children were left behind or their fathers refused to leave their hometowns.
Family reunions, if they happen at all, often take years.
Many of the children of these marriages, if they are unable to reunite with their mothers in the South, get upset as they struggle to live in a strange culture. They are often cut off from friends and many of their family members.
Song said she was 10 years old when her mother left their home in northeastern China in 2010. A year later, her father also went to South Korea, leaving her with her grandparents.
“When my mom left, I didn’t cry. But when my dad left, I cried a lot,” Song said. “I think it was because I felt I was truly alone then.”
She only reunited with her parents in 2016 in South Korea after a six-year separation. Last December, her mother died of lung cancer.
On arriving in South Korea, the children get citizenship because their mothers are now South Korean nationals. But because they do not have a direct link to North Korea, they cannot legally receive some other help that North Korean-born refugees get.
Special aid for North Koreans
Those missed benefits include the right to bypass the national university entrance exam, a college tuition waiver and, for men, a choice about whether to perform two years of required military service.
South Koreans are often not sure whether the children are Chinese, South Korean or North Korean refugees. Because neither parent was born in the South, they do not have someone to help join the country's society.
South Korea’s Education Ministry reports that about 1,550 such children were enrolled in primary, middle and high schools across the country as of April this year. The true number is likely higher.
In comparison, there were about 980 North Korean-born students.
In recent years, the government has tried to help by providing $3,390 to their families. It has also sent more foreign language teachers to schools. In May, an opposition lawmaker proposed giving China-born North Korean children the same assistance given to North Korean-born refugees.
Shim Yang-sup, head of the Seoul-based South-North Love School, said the children should be supported because they have an important resource: the ability to speak two languages.
Kim Hyun-seung, from Tianjin, China, arrived in South Korea three years ago to reunite with his mother, who came six years earlier. Kim’s 52-year-old mother, Kim So-yeon, described him as “a great, loyal son.”
Tall and thin, Kim said he would not object to serving in the South Korean military and dreams of working as a chef in a French restaurant.
But he does not want a serious girlfriend out of fear they would “become a couple like my father and mother that gives pain to their child, fails to live together and worries about many things.”
I'm Mario Ritter.
And I'm Dorothy Gundy.
Hyung-Jin Kim reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
integrate – v. to make (a person or group) part of a larger group or organization
bride – n. a woman on the day when she is to be married
agonize – v. to think or worry very much about something
upset – adj. unhappy
benefit – v. to receive a profit or gain
bypass – v. to go around or avoid (a place or area)
waiver – n. an official document indicating that someone has given
December 13, 2019
December 13, 2019
6 Minute English
Is technology always the solution?
EPISODE 180719 / 19 JUL 2018
This week's question:
Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is an area of computer science that develops the ability of computers to learn to do things like solve problems or drive cars without crashing. But in what decade was the term 'Artificial Intelligence' coined? Was it:
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
someone who believes their country, race or sex is better than any others
the belief that a technological solution is always a better solution to a problem
neutral, fair and balanced
a piece of software but also someone who does something for you, on your behalf
a nuanced problem
a problem which has small and important areas which may be hard to spot, but they need to be considered
a set of software instructions for a computer system
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Catherine.
And hello, I'm Rob.
Today we have another technology topic.
Oh good! I love technology. It makes things easier, it’s fast and means I can have gadgets.
Do you think that technology can actually do things better than humans?
For some things, yes. I think cars that drive themselves will be safer than humans but that will take away some of the pleasure of driving. So I guess it depends on what you mean by better.
Good point, Rob. And that actually ties in very closely with today’s topic which is technochauvinism.
We’ll find out shortly, Rob, but before we do, today’s quiz question. Artificial Intelligence, or A.I., is an area of computer science that develops the ability of computers to learn to do things like solve problems or drive cars without crashing. But in what decade was the term 'Artificial Intelligence' coined? Was it:
a) the 1940s,
b) the 1950s or
c) the 1960s?
I think it's quite a new expression so I'll go for c) the 1960s.
Good luck with that, Rob, and we’ll give you the answer later in the programme. Now, let's get back to our topic of technochauvinism.
I know what a chauvinist is. It’s someone who thinks that their country or race or sex is better than others. But how does this relate to technology?
We’re about to find out. Meredith Broussard is Professor of Journalism at New York University and she’s written a book called Artificial Unintelligence. She appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less to talk about it. Listen carefully and find out her definition of technochauvinism.
Meredith Broussard, Professor of Journalism at New York University
Technochauvinism is the idea that technology is always the highest and best solution. So somehow over the past couple of decades we got into the habit of thinking that doing something with a computer is always the best and most objective way to do something and that’s simply not true. Computers are not objective, they are proxies for the people who make them.
What is Meredith Broussard's definition of technochauvinism?
It's this idea that using technology is better than not using technology.
She says that we have this idea that a computer is objective. Something that is objective is neutral, it doesn’t have an opinion, it’s fair and it's unbiased – so it’s the opposite of being a chauvinist. But Meredith Broussard says this is not true.
She argues that computers are not objective. They are proxies for the people that make them. You might know the word proxy when you are using your computer in one country and want to look at something that is only available in a different country. You can use a piece of software called a proxy to do that.
But a proxy is also a person or a thing that carries out your wishes and your instructions for you. So computers are only as smart or as objective as the people that programme them. Computers are proxies for their programmers. Broussard says that believing too much in Artificial Intelligence can make the world worse. Let’s hear a bit more. This time find out what serious problems in society does she think may be reflected in AI?
Meredith Broussard, Professor of Journalism at New York University
It’s a nuanced problem. What we have is data on the world as it is and we have serious problems with racism, sexism, classism, ageism, in the world right now so there is no such thing as perfect data. We also have a problem inside the tech world where the creators of algorithms do not have sufficient awareness of social issues such that they can make good technology that gets us closer to a world as it should be.
She said that society has problems with racism, sexism, classism and ageism.
And she says it’s a nuanced problem. A nuanced problem is not simple, but it does have small and important areas which may be hard to spot, but they need to be considered.
And she also talked about algorithms used to program these technological systems. An algorithm is a set of instructions that computers use to perform their tasks. Essentially it’s the rules that they use to come up with their answers and Broussard believes that technology will reflect the views of those who create the algorithms.
Next time you're using a piece of software or your favourite app you might find yourself wondering if it's a useful tool or does it contain these little nuances that reflect the views of the developer.
Right, Catherine. How about the answer to this week's question then?
I asked in which decade was the term 'Artificial Intelligence' coined. Was it the 40s, the 50s or the 60s?
And I said the 60s.
But it was actually the 1950s. Never mind, Rob. Let’s review today’s vocabulary.
Well, we had a chauvinist – that's someone who believes their country, race or sex is better than any others.
And this gives us technochauvinism, the belief that a technological solution is always a better solution to a problem.
Next - someone or something that is objective is neutral, fair and balanced.
A proxy is a piece of software but also someone who does something for you, on your behalf. A nuanced problem is a subtle one, it’s not a simple case of right or wrong, in a nuanced problem there are small but important things that you need to consider.
And an algorithm is a set of software instructions for a computer system.
Well, that’s all we have time for today. Goodbye for now.
Lighting up the Thai winter
By The Nation
Visitors looking for a cool winter experience can also bask in the glow of millions if light that take the form of illumination art.
Widely known as the City of the Jar, Ratchaburi's most notable landmark has been a giant jar with a dragon painting. However, the NaSatta Thai National Park is emerging as a new tourist attraction in Bang Phae district. A cultural learning centre, the place educates visitors on the roots of Thai society and the inheritance of beautiful Thai art.
The place will become even more special in December, when the "NaSatta Light Festival: Inspiration 2019" presents the beauty of millions of colourful light displays by expert designers who specialise in lighting using projector mapping, interactive light art and interactive display techniques, which will allow you to walk around in amazement at night.
The 7 highlighted spots to take photos are:
1. Maha Raja Kasattha is a light display with the sculpture of the three statues of the saviours of Thai independence. With the illuminated brass decorated with lights like a flower field in front of the sculpture courtyard In the background, the lights are set in red, white, and blue to represent the Thai flag.
2 Na Suthanuson is a building that exhibits fibreglass images of important persons, known as the good figures of the land, such as the late Princess Mother, Professor Mom Luang Pin Malakul, Professor Sanya Dharmasakti, Professor Puay Ungphakorn, MR Kukrit Pramoj, Sueb Nakhasathien etc. There will be a walkway in a small forest park before the building with blue decorative lights along the entire path, both on the ground and on trees. The garden is decorated with mirrors on the right side of the paths, creating beautiful reflections.
3. Chandelier lighting with orange fish. After leaving the fibreglass figures building, you enter a walkway decorated with arches of white and aquamarine chandelier, long lines descending from a height. When passing through that arch, it feels like watching a hundred thousand stars. Meanwhile, the walkway is a swamp with orange fish lights above the surface.
4 Na Suthapathima, the exhibition of the three Buddha sculptures, each of which will be displayed separately. The first Buddha image is decorated with lights in a beautiful pink lotus blossomed in front of the Buddha image. The other Buddha statues have spherical lights of various colours including yellow, orange, golden, and blue.
5 Sukhothai period shrine. This is the highlight of the Na Suthas Thai Park, which is located in the zone of Na Suthapathima. This building enshrines Buddha images in the Sukhothai period. There is a story about the journey of Buddhism to Thailand during the Sukhothai Kingdom through light, sound and images on the walls and Buddha images using short mapping techniques. The story can be told via interactive light art for approximately 10-15 minutes.
6 Food zones and waterfall lighting. Tourists will be able to relax and have dinner from many restaurants with your choice of meat and vegetables (skewers), Tom Yum noodles, BBQ pork noodles, grilled chicken etc. Decorative lights at the waterfall can be viewed from some areas.
7. Magnificent golden light tunnels, approximately 300-400 metres long, is another highlight of this event. There are many tourists crowding around, standing, taking pictures in this tunnel, more crowded than at other spots. In addition, once they pass through the light tunnel, tourists will also find another decorative light garden as well-decorated as in a science fiction movie.
Night-time viewing of decorative lights is from 6pm to 10pm with activities scheduled every Saturday-Sunday and public holidays. Admission tickets range from Bt300 to Bt2,000.
Police may charge political rally leaders
By The Nation
Senator Somchai Sawangkarn also posted a message on his Facebook account stating that the rally was illegal as the Public Assembly Act requires organisers to notify the event in advance, and prohibits the assembly from taking place within a 150-metre radius of the palace.
Future Forward Party (FWP) leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit had gathered his supporters on Saturday (December 14), to express their opposition to the current political situation and showing that people would not surrender to dictatorship.
December 16, 2019