North Korean defectors visit L.A. to learn history

July 30, 2014
Ralph Ahn, right, discusses the independence movement with North Korean defectors and guides visiting from Korea. (Park Sang-hyuk/The Korea Times)

Ralph Ahn, right, discusses the independence movement with North Korean defectors and guides visiting from Korea. (Park Sang-hyuk/The Korea Times)

By Park Ju-yeon

North Korean defectors arrived in Los Angeles Monday to attend a program aimed at teaching Korean American history.

The visit, arranged by the YoungNak Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles and supported by Seoul’s YoungNak Presbyterian Church, brought 12 defectors aged 20 to 30, as well as six guides, to the city.

“I didn’t have much information and had negative thoughts about America, but coming here in person, it feels more comfortable than I would have imagined,” said one of the defectors, identified only as Hwang.

Bae Guk-hee, president of the Korea Liberation Association in southern California, was the main organizer of the visit. He said he wanted to educate young defectors about Korean American history and the Korean independence movement after attending a seminar for missions in North Korea earlier this year.

The group paid respects to early Korean immigrants buried at Rosedale Cemetery near Koreatown Tuesday before touring the Dosan Ahn Chang Ho Family House and the Korean National Association Memorial Hall, where they met Ahn’s son, Ralph Ahn.

“I’m filled with emotions and very glad to meet young defectors from North Korea here,” Ahn said.

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