Thousands of children of North Korean refugee mothers remain unprotected in China.
Park Ki-choon, a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic United Party, on Monday announced the figure citing a report by the National Human Rights Commission based on interviews with 100 children born to defecting North Korean mothers in 14 regions in China's Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Shandong provinces last year.
Only 21 of the children lived with their North Korean birth mother and 20 lived with their father only. Another 39 were looked after by grandparents or relatives, and 20 lived in shelters run by evangelical missionaries.
The NHRC, however, believes there are 20,000 to 30,000 children under 19 born in China to North Korean mothers, based on the estimates by Korean NGOs and researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
But a missionary working with North Korean defectors from China said, "We estimate that there are 50,000 stateless orphans whose basic livelihood is not protected in northeast China, to say nothing of their education."
The main reason these children are abandoned is because China deported the mothers back to North Korea, accounting for 36 percent. Another 31 percent said the family broke down when the mother left the family, mostly by going to South Korea.
A former high-ranked South Korean Foreign Ministry official said, "The tragedies happen because the Chinese fathers often don't have the money to bring up the child."