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Family Life in Seoul
Ever since my family claimed asylum in the Republic of Korea, our lives have become harder. We used to live in Incheon before we moved to Seoul, where we currently live and where my son and daughter attend high school. It was in Seoul that we filed for asylum on the basis that we became Christians. Before we became Christians, we were (and still are) church members; we went to church to learn Korean, and after listening to sermons and communicating with nice Christians, we converted to Christianity. As a result, I had to find a job since I no longer had authorization to have a business. I once had a very successful business. When we became Christians, I lost a lot of money and property in Pakistan because Pakistan strictly follows the Islamic Law, and according to Islamic Law those who leave Islam have limited rights.
Whenever we go for visa extension, the immigration officer is very rude. Also, when my wife and I had interviews, the interview officers didn’t record the interview, and I know for sure they made stuff up, so we didn’t get humanitarian visas. That’s why we lost and had to go to court. Our lawyer said not one word in our defense in the court. Our church supports us financially. As refugees, we have “normal,” typical lives.
My children go to school, where they aim to do their very best in academics. They also strive to learn Korean by learning at least five Korean vocabulary words a day. The teachers are really nice; they also help my children integrate with Korean classmates. Although some Korean classmates are friendly, others are not very accepting of having foreigners as their classmates, so they tend to just stay away from us. With their friends, my children often talk about academics, future college goals, K-pop, and of course some of Korea’s delicious food. When asked, they told their friends about Pakistani food and culture a couple of times. When school time ends, they come home to study and relax.
My wife stays home and does housework around the house. She often goes shopping for groceries. When she’s not working, she’s often praying for God’s love and care. She never stops to pray God for helping us get humanitarian visas to stay in Korea. Before we go to sleep, we try to read simple Korean words from the Korean Bible, and then we look up the definition in English.
I work really hard at my job. The problem is that since I’m not young, I have to change jobs frequently. In my whole life, I never had to have a job, but I always had a successful business. I encountered some Korean coworkers who discriminate against foreign workers, and they often try to start fights. I often had very strict Korean bosses who treat foreigners very poorly. During my breaktime, I often practice Korean with some coworkers. I’m always happy when it’s time to go home to rest and be with my family, but then suddenly I get scared because what if the next day my boss tells me to leave and get a job someplace else? Before getting ready to go to sleep, I always read my Bible and then pray to God for a safe future.
Although life as refugees is difficult, we try to hope life will get better soon. But it’s hard to hope because I don’t see the Korean government taking any action in defense of the refugees. I think it’s going to take one hundred years before the Korean government starts to be more accepting of refugees. It’s very upsetting to know how discriminating Korean immigration officials are. I feel like the Korean government is punishing us for claiming asylum in Korea. Korea is unofficially a Buddhist country; if we resided in a Christian country, we would be treated with respect by other immigration officials. If the Korean government believes my story is fabricated then I urge the government to place hidden cameras in the refugee office, which is located in the immigration building. I hope the Korean government will read this and give us justice.
* Korean version: http://nancen.org/1764