North Korean Defectors in the South Remember Families

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North Korean defectors celebrate ahead of the Lunar New Year in Seoul, South Korea. They say they miss their families left in North Korea and hope to be united soon.

Ahead of the Lunar New Year, North Korean defectors in South Korea express mixed feelings, as they celebrate one of the most important holidays away from their families.

According to the lunar calendar, the Year of the Rabbit begins on Thursday.

About 200 defectors gathered recently to participate in a singing contest organized by a local district office.

The women later made traditional North Korean dumplings, reminding them of home.

[Kim Soon-shil, Defector]:
"I missed my brothers and sisters more than usual while making dumplings to celebrate Lunar New Year holidays. How nice it would be if we could make dumplings and celebrate the holidays together with reunification. I wish North and South Korea would be reunified as soon as possible."

Another defector says the holidays make him lonely.

[Seon, Defector]:
"I feel alone. I don't usually go out of my house during these holidays. I will be grieving in my heart if I go out (and see other families getting together)."

In the outskirts of Seoul, a group of female North Korean defectors gathered in one of their apartments in Bucheon.

[Lee Yong-ran, Defector]:
"How can I not miss my children during holidays? I broke down in tears last night because I missed them and thought of them."

Lee says her family in the North will not be able to celebrate the festive season due to the poor economic situation.

[Lee Yong-ran, Defector]:
"It's not likely they will make rice cake for the holiday. They only have one meal in a day. I guess they're just drinking water to withstand the hunger while I'm eating well here. I wish I could send half of my food to the North. If I could, I would."