Leader in Catholic community criticizes those who oppose Yemeni asylum seekers

Posted on : 2018-07-02 17:02 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Bishop of Jeju Diocese says shutting out refugees is crime against human morality
Kang Woo-il
Kang Woo-il

In response to the recent controversy in South Korean society about the Yemeni refugees on Jeju Island, Kang Woo-il, Bishop of the Jeju Diocese of the Catholic Church, criticized those who oppose the refugees and called for Koreans to embrace them. Kang said that it is a crime against human morality to shut the door on refugees and migrants.

Kang made the remarks in a pastoral letter sent to members of the diocese on June 30, shortly before Papal Sunday on July 1: “Many people have been expressing confusion about the recent arrival of more than 500 refugees to Jeju Island because of the civil war in Yemen. Some people are arguing that housing the refugees presents a threat to safety and want them deported. But we need to look back at our history.”

“At the beginning of the twentieth century, many of our ancestors who lost their land during the Japanese colonial occupation had to go to Manchuria and Primorsky Krai, even though they didn’t know anyone there. Some people left to make a living and others to fight for the nation’s independence. There were also many who left Jeju for Japan in search of work or to escape from the horrors of the Apr. 3 Incident,” Kang said.

Kang called on Catholics to embrace the refugees and to show mercy: “Seven million Koreans who are scattered around the world depend upon the good will of the people of the countries where they live. How enraged we would be if our family members living in other countries were shut out and chased away by the people of those countries! Turning our backs on migrants and shutting them out is a crime that denies the conscience that all people ought to have, and this is even more unacceptable for a Christian.”

By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju correspondent

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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