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SETTLEMENT STORY
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[Social Integration Case Presentation Contest] Let's live together
NKRF Date 2024-04-26 Hit 81

 

 

Lee Bok-sin

 

 

 

 

Hello. My name is Lee Bok-sin and I work as a nurse in the sub-intensive care unit at Jeonju Open Hospital. I am 32 years old, and entered South Korea 8 years ago. I think I really wandered around a lot because I didn't know what to do after first entering South Korea. In the meantime, my part-time job employer at that time asked me if I would try becoming a nurse. I had never thought of the job of ‘nurse’, and I found it to be a hard job when I researched about it. 

When I was really thinking about it a lot, my maternal aunt told me that she's a nursing assistant now, but that she would have been a nurse if she were younger. Therefore, I went to the department of nursing on her recommendation. Even though I experienced lots of hardships during my studies, I finally graduated from the school in February 2021 with the help of many people, including those at the Hana Foundation. 

I thought it was over when I became a nurse after graduation. Then, the place where I first worked was the intensive care unit. It's hard enough being a new nurse, but being an intensive care unit nurse is even harder, with no break in between. But what could I do? I just had to endure it. I hung in there and worked hard, and I was able to be an independent nurse in one month, whereas a typical new nurse would have to go through three months of training. 

 While I was working in the intensive care unit, I saw the news. The news said that the explosive number of patients infected with corona 19 resulted in a shortage of nurses. Living in South Korea, I would have liked to pay back South Korea for all the opportunities and help it had given me, but there were nothing special that I could do at that time. When I watched the news, I realized there was something that I could do. Yes, I am a nurse, I thought, and I can do it, too. 

When such thinking came to my mind, I immediately went to the nursing director and carefully related my thoughts. Fortunately, the director said yes and told me to go and work hard for a year. In February 22, I was dispatched as a nurse to a COVID-19 screening clinic and went to Muju, Jeollabuk-do. After working in Muju for a month, I also worked in the sub-intensive care unit of Jeonju Open Hospital, where I am currently working as a nurse in a hospital dedicated to COVID-19. 

As a nurse dedicated to corona, I have often suffered difficulty and was sometimes exhausted. When I went in with level D protective clothing, there were many times when I couldn't take it off until my work was over, and there were many other things that were hard and exhausting. However, I was rather happy. I was so proud that there was something I could do and that I could be of help in the process. In the midst of such a hard-working environment, my income increased naturally, and while I was in the hospital, I did a lot of part-time jobs. I'm still doing them.

I bought a 24-pyeong apartment in my name this January with the money I earned from hard work. On the day I moved in, I couldn't believe it. I was so happy, and I was proud of myself. However, I thought, ‘Is it okay for me to be the only one who can live well?

 Now, I had bought my house, and was satisfied with my job, but I don't live in this world alone. I though it is important not only to unify North and South Korea but also to cooperate with all members of society in order to achieve social integration. 

Even if I work hard myself, my progress is owing to the encouragement and consideration of many people around me, so I became interested in the underprivileged people who need more help than me. Eventually, I found out about a small place that needs donations. I have donated to this place up to now. 

However, as I mentioned above, my life became financially difficult because I had bought the house with a so-called ‘heavy loan’. Nonetheless, I want to donate. I wanted to give a lot, but I couldn’t, and so I gave 5~10 % of my annual salary. The place where I donated is an employment agency for the disabled operated by the local government, and my donation helps create their job opportunities. 

On the day I donated and talked this and that with the people there, I was really happy that my small contribution had helped achieve social integration and helped people's lives in some small way, and I felt proud that I was helpful to one part of society even if it was a small thing. However, I can’t settle now. I want to donate more and sponsor more places, and I thought I should work toward greater social integration from now on in preparation for North and South exchanges and unification in the future, so I entered graduate school from this year. 

It is not easy to study while working, but I am working hard to play a bigger role as a member of this society for the future. It's really embarrassing to say something like this in front of so many people. Nevertheless, I can say this even though I have lived in South Korea for less than 10 years, because I have felt a lot during that time. There were many variables, including prejudice against North Korean refugees and a slight disregard for them.

However, they often don’t know about North Korean refugees. I would like to say to young North Korean refugees like me, approach first. I think approaching is a form of courage. It’s Ok even if it is not a big thing. Saying hello first, smiling, and giving hands first make them know your true heart. Turns out there are a lot more good people out there.

 People usually think we should do something big to achieve social integration, but I think small things can accumulate to achieve something great. We share our worries with them, we help each other when we are in trouble, and we naturally integrate into society in this way, and I think that is integration.​