So-Heon is interning with Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL) in Seoul, South Korea. APIL is a public interest lawyers’ organization that works to defend refugees, victims of human trafficking, stateless persons, long-term detained migrants, and human rights victims committed by Korean corporations abroad.
I recently visited the Immigration Reception Center (Center) in Yeongjong-do, South Korea. Refugee applicants can stay at the Center for 6 months after entering South Korea. The Center provides services such as lodging, food, Korean classes, and various others for refugee applicants. Refugee applicants can freely come in and out of the Center, and they receive some allowance while they stay there.
|In the room where applicants stay at the Center
The Center invited one of the attorneys in my organization, Advocates for Public Interest Law (APIL), to present a lecture regarding refugee application procedures. APIL defends the human rights of refugees, victims of human trafficking, stateless persons, long-term detained migrants, and victims of human rights abuses committed by Korean Corporations abroad. Attorney Il Lee gave a lecture, and I translated his lecture from Korean to English. It was very interesting that when I translated the lecture into English, there was one applicant who translated it English to Arabic for Arabic speakers, because not all the applicants spoke either Korean or English.
Our main audience was refugee applicants, who are currently staying at the Center. The lecture was very important because Attorney Lee explained the definition of a refugee, important legal terms in the definitions, application procedures, interview preparation, and ways to appeal and file a lawsuit when a refugee applicant is denied refugee status in South Korea. Also, refugee applicants had the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the lecture.
After the lecture, the Center gave us a tour. We saw where applicants stay, where they eat, where they rest, and where they receive educational training. Since it is not easy to get an opportunity to visit the Center, it was a very meaningful visit. Moreover, I was very thankful that I could help them understand important refugee application procedures, and it was a great get away from the office because most of my time is spent in the office doing various legal research projects. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to meet great people who are passionately working to defend and uphold the human rights of refugees, and I cannot wait to learn and experience more while I am interning with APIL!