An Angolan Family Has Been Stuck In A Korean Airport For 6 Months Seeking Refugee Status
By DeAnna Taylor
For many Angolan nationals with Congolese roots, escaping to another land is at the forefront of their mind in hopes of seeking a better life. There has been widespread discrimination against those from Congo living in Angola, from the Angolan ruling class.
This was the case for Nkuka Lulendo, his wife, and their 4 young children. Police tortured Lulendo, assaulted him, illegally detained him, and sadly sexually assaulted his wife.
He felt the only way out was to escape and to seek refugee status in a new country. This is also the same for some 333,000 Congolese people since October 2018.
Lulendo took his family to South Korea in December 2018.
Unfortunately, once the family arrived they were denied entry and their passports were taken. South Korea officials saying the reason for the denial was that there was a “clear absence of grounds for applying for refugee status, including a possible attempt to gain refugee status for purely economic reasons.”
They have since applied for several appeals to this initial decision, each time being denied yet again.
The family has stayed in a small section of a duty-free lounge within the airport since arriving in December, making due with the confines of where they are.
Many Koreans and other foreigners to the country, including a group of American expats, have rallied behind them begging for Korean officials to allow them in.
These same supporters do their best to bring food and supplies to the family, especially the children, whenever they or people they know have to travel out of the section of the airport where the family now lives.
Many who know of the Lulendo’s situation ask, why haven’t they simply gone back to Angola? Nkuka has stated that he refuses to return to Angola out of fear of being killed. At the advice of his lawyer, he plans to wait out the appeal process as long as they can.
The family’s next appeal hearing is scheduled for July.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.