|Volunteers from Rotary District 3710 pose in front of a shelter for Koryoin refugees in the southwestern city of Gwangju, Tuesday. Courtesy of Koryoin Village|
By Lee Yeon-woo
A shelter has opened in southwestern Korea for Koryoin refugees who fled from Ukraine following Russia's invasion. Koryoin refers to the descendants of ethnic Koreans who migrated to the former Soviet Union region between 1860 and Aug. 15, 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.
Koryoin refugees who arrived in Korea can stay there for two to three weeks while filing visa documents or receiving medical checkups.
Located in Gwangsan District, southwestern Gwangju, Koryoin Village is home to many ethnic Koreans who migrated from Russia and post-Soviet Union countries such as Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, members of Koryoin Village has rolled up their sleeves and helped ethnic Korean refugees enter Korea from Ukraine. Around 550 people received support with airfare from the local community's donations sent to Koryoin Village.
After arriving in the city, the refugees were offered to stay in rooms in three buildings free of charge.
Calls were mounting among the community members to offer shelters.
Starting from this July, the village members renovated the buildings so that they could offer more accommodations to refugees.
Local volunteers and civic group activists joined the effort to create a shelter for the refugees.
"So far, around 400 of them (who left the shelter) settled in Koryoin Village and the surrounding neighborhood," Shin Jo-ya, the head of Koryoin Village, also known as the Korean Cooperative, said.
The newly-opened shelter will also become a permanent accommodation for some. "The shelter will become a home for the elderly and disabled who find it hard to work and maintain a living," Shin added.