Stateless children are another tragic result of a decade of mass defection from North Korea. China manages ID cards strictly to restrict population growth, and as a result illegal migrants give birth to ghosts.
Stateless children are not eligible for public education. In the countryside, parents need to persuade schools to accept their children, but even if they do, these children cannot officially graduate and get no further than middle school. Being neither Chinese nor foreign, the children of North Korean refugees are easy targets for crimes. IDs can be bought from corrupt officials, but they are expensive.
Another aspect is the many North Korean women who run away from their Chinese husbands, abandoning their children. One pastor in Yenji who helps refugees said, "After one or two years of life here after being sold to Chinese men, North Korean women grow wise to how the world works. They run away."
The mothers' feelings can be imagines, but the children, too, often remain scarred for life.
The exact number of children of North Korean refugees throughout China is unknown, but estimates range between 10,000 and 20,000.
It costs a lot of money to take care of these stateless children. They need a place to eat and sleep, they need education and healthcare. At the moment, international sponsorship is the only source of help. They desperately need support from South Koreans.
By Park Jong-in, Lee Hark-joon