North Korean Defectors in Mass Wedding


Five couples tie the knot in Seoul ceremony

Listen to the original broadcast in Korean

A group of five couples who defected from North Korea to the South held a mass wedding ceremony Wednesday in Seoul.

While some of the 10 defectors had already begun to live together as husband and wife on arriving in South Korea, they were unable to afford a wedding ceremony until Dec. 10.

The mass weddings were attended by more than 100 well-wishers, together with reporters from local and foreign media organizations.

Han Man Young, the pastor who officiated at the weddings, said the couples should take special care of each other after all they had been through.

"You were cold, starving, and fled North Korea, crossing rivers in order to be happy," Han told the couples. "We truly congratulate you on your wedding today. We wish you a happy marriage."

Lee Seong Sil, a 40-year old defector and bride, said she liked her wedding gown and was very happy to have a proper wedding ceremony in front of guests.

"It feels very good," Lee told RFA correspondent Lee Jin-seo, indicating her wedding gown. "I've never worn such a dress before."

Lee's bridegroom, Lim Hak Soo, 37, said he met Lee after their arrival in South Korea. "I found out she and I were from the same hometown — ; she was living right across from me," he said.

Others were shedding tears for absent relatives left behind in the North. Kim Chul Joon, a 37-year-old groom, married Jeong Seung Bok at the ceremony. The couple already has one child and is planning another.

"I have no ambitious dream," Kim told RFA. "I just want to settle down and keep a happy family until I am able to meet up with my parents in the North."

Ku Young Seo, president of a welfare group that helps North Korean defectors adjust to their new lives in the south, said many North Koreans were in de facto marriages, but had not held official wedding ceremonies.

The five couples will spend their first night after the ceremony in Seoul, before leaving for a joint honeymoon on Cheju Island.


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