There are an increase of Kopino children, born between a Korean father and a Filipino mother, enduring a life of struggle. They look like average Korean children, but they know nothing about Korea except the fact their fathers are Korean.
A non-profit organization in South Korea named the “Messenger International” helps these half Korean half Filipino children around the world. Several members of the organization met Michelle (28) who lives in Cebu, South central region of the Philippines.
Michelle showed them a faded photograph of a man holding his 8-year-old daughter in his arm. She said, “I met him at a club when I was 19. A year later, I delivered a baby. We lived together but he went to the Casino most of the time. Only when he ran out of money, he came back home. The next year, he went back to Korea. Then, he never picked up his phone, and he never came back. He dumped me and his daughter.”
One asked her whether she has something to say if she sees him again. She said, “It is okay to ditch me, but please do not ditch your own child. I have no money to send her to school.”
The village Michelle was living in resembles the Korean slums of the 1960s. More than 10 family members were living in a house built with thin wooden planks. Michelle works at a club to make a living, but her salary barely covers meals for her and her child.
In 2006, the number of tourists to the Philippines from South Korea reached 572,000. The number gradually increased, and the number exceeded 920,000 in 2011. The Philippines is a favorite place for Korean students who want to learn English. As it is a lot cheaper than Europe or the United States to study English, about 40,000 students visit Philippines every year.
Putting study aside, many students get into relationships with Filipino women and some of them allow their girlfriends to have babies. Due to the Catholic culture, Filipino women often avoid using contraceptive devices and abortion is never an option. Numerous heartless Korean fathers go back home when their “study period” ends even if they have babies to take care of. They ditch their wives and children in the Philippines.
According to a local resident in the Philippines, it is assumed that there are roughly 15,000 Kopino children. Kopino children and their moms are in serious need of financial support. The “Messenger International” and other NGOs are helping Kopino moms to prepare for lawsuits and find their husbands. There are at least 15,000 fathers to find and they should be responsible for what they have done.
Hong Ju You