Afghans rescued from Taliban by S. Korea adjusting well to new life
Updated: 2021-10-14 09:55:57 KST
"We are happy and also our families are happy here and also we have hope for the future for our children."
Thousands of miles away from their war-torn homeland, Afghans of special merit to South Korea prepare for a new life free from Taliban control at the National Human Resources Development Institute in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do Province.
"With a grass field for playing football and enough space for kids to learn taekwondo and freely run about, Jincheon offers a safe haven for those who feared their safety would be jeopardized had they stayed in Afghanistan."
On Wednesday, the Justice Ministry held a presser at the state-run facility and gave the media a first-hand look into how the Afghans are learning the Korean language, adapting to Korean culture and acquiring the skills necessary to lead a stable life in the country.
"It's difficult for women to freely learn taekwondo in Afghanistan, especially without hijabs worn. Afghan women don't have that liberty It's so satisfying to be able to practice without a hijab on here in Korea. I enjoy it very much."
Afghans told reporters that the adjustment process was going smoothly and said they were surprised to realize how many cultural similarities there were between Korea and Afghanistan.
"For example, we take off our shoes when we enter the house. This is something simple but it makes us feel at home "
Back in late August, South Korea evacuated close to 400 Afghans in a rescue operation codenamed "Miracle" later classifying them as not refugees but "special contributors".
"I can say that the South Korean evacuation operation was much more efficient than most other western countries… Even some countries like Japan were not able to even evacuate one person from Afghanistan but South Korea evacuated all its members."
The evacuees range from interpreters to medical professionals and will be staying in Jincheon before relocating to another facility later this year.
Until then, the Afghans say they wish to absorb the Korean way of life as much as possible.
Currently registered as foreigners living in the country under an F1 visa, government officials say the Afghans will soon be able to apply for an F2 visa, which will grant them long term stay and employment opportunities so they can stand on their own two feet.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News, Jincheon.