“No way back” for congregation that fled China
Two years after fleeing severe persecution in China, sixty members of a house church, including thirty children, have been living in a small rented house on an island off the southern tip of South Korea with little or no hope of returning to their homeland or getting asylum in the East Asian country.
The Chinese Christians, who are from the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church in China’s southern city of Shenzhen, and is considered illegal in China, fled to South Korea’s Jeju island in the fall of 2019 and have been struggling to earn a living while trying their best to meet the requirements of the asylum process, The Wall Street Journal reports.
South Korea reviewed about 12,000 refugee applications last year, but less than one per cent of them got approved, according to a refugee-rights center in Seoul, called Nancen.
Pan Yongguang, the pastor of the house church, which was founded in 2012, is a 43-year-old former doctor and told the Journal that the families from his church would like to resettle in the United States. Last month, he spoke to an American diplomat.
Pan, who was trained by pastors from a U.S.-based Reformed Presbyterian church, had been detained and questioned by authorities in China. A couple of church members who returned to China also faced retribution. Their homes were raided and their movements restricted.
Most of the sixty church members in South Korea are surviving by doing menial jobs. Some wanted to go back to China but Beijing had tightly secured its borders due to COVID-19.