IOM Co-hosts Refugee Film Festival in Republic of Korea
Republic of Korea - IOM and Korea Refugee Network co-hosted a refugee film festival in Seoul on 20 June to celebrate World Refugee Day. About 300 people attended the film festival despite heavy rains.
The Korea Refugee Film Festival, the first of its kind in the country, aimed to provide opportunities for the Korean public to understand the harsh conditions refugees face in their countries of origin and the countries where they seek safe haven.
The 9-hour event showcased three refugee-related films including The Good Lie, a Hollywood film featuring IOM’s resettlement services for the lost boys and girls of Sudan throughout their journeys to the US.
“The Good Lie was chosen because it’s one of the best films that describe the challenges refugees go through when adjusting to a new country,” said Seonyoung Lee, an IOM staff member who has been helping to organize the film festival. IOM has been supporting the transit assistance for resettling refugees to the US at Incheon airport via its Movement programme for more than 20 years, as well as asylum seekers’ voluntary return through the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme.
“We see IOM bags featured in The Good Lie at Incheon airport, where IOM Seoul and its partner UNIES provide transit assistance. These bags act as identification cards for refugees,” she continued, explaining how excited she was to find how the small IOM bag left a huge impression on the audience at the film festival. UNIES, IOM’s long-term private partner supported the film festival financially.
The event was initiated by the Korea Refugee Network which consists of ROK non-profit organizations working together to promote fundamental human rights of refugees and asylum seekers living in Korea. The network has been celebrating World Refugee Day since 2011 in various forms such as flash mobs, photo exhibitions, and sales of handmade items by refugees. A surge of films on refugee resettlement from last year such as The Good Lie prompted the network to focus on films this year.
Apart from its contribution to awareness-raising activities, the network contributed significantly to the passing and enactment of the first Refugee Law in 2012 and 2013 respectively, enabling Korea to become the second refugee resettlement country in Asia, after only Japan. “Refugee resettlement is now a reality in Korea and it is very important that we don’t think of refugees as a burden,” said Miah Park, Head of Office at IOM Seoul.
“With proper implementation of the resettlement programme which IOM Seoul is currently designing upon the request of the Ministry of Justice, it will only be a matter of time for these refugees to contribute back to the communities they have become part of and call home,” she added, hoping that the film festival will help the Korean public see the positive contributions refugees bring to society.
The Republic of Korea signed the UN Refugee Convention in 1992 and granted the first refugee status in 2001. The total number of asylum seekers who applied for refugee status in Korea since 1994 is 10,089 (as of February 2015). Even though only five per cent of the applicants have received refugee status so far, the government of the Republic of Korea granted humanitarian status to 502 of 650 Syrian asylum seekers last year, considering the on-going civil war which entered the fifth year in 2015.