“When I first moved to the Philippines 22 years ago with my husband, there were 1,000-2,000 estimated Kopinos. Now there are roughly 30,000, they say. It makes me feel deja vu, recalling Lai Dai Han in Vietnam some 40 years ago. It’s been seven years since I began working full swing in this Kopino mission.”
On July 17, I visited Open Rainbow Children’s Center and met with its director, Deacon Kim Sun-hui (59· Manila Pyeonggwang Church). She takes care of Kopinos abandoned by their Korean fathers. The word “Kopino” is a combination of “Korean” and “Filipino” used to describe children born in the Philippines of a Korean father and a Filipina mother.
The Center was established through donations made mainly by two Korean pastors from Gyeonggido, Korea, who came to the Philippines on a short-term mission trip three years ago and learned about the reality of Kopinos. Deacon Kim’s husband, who is in the construction business, makes a monthly donation, and some local churches in Busan area also send offerings. The supporting churches plan to invite some Kopinos to study in Korea.
According to local sources, most Kopinos were born of Korean men who were in the Philippines temporarily either for study, travel or business, and local Filipina women; and the children were later abandoned. The reason for the increasing number of Kopinos is that some shameless Korean men do not take responsibility for their licentious acts, while most Filipinas’ Catholic faith makes them avoid abortion.
Deacon Kim said, “It is very rare that the Filipina mother has the contact information of the child’s father, which makes it almost impossible to sue the father and claim child care costs.” She criticized, “The Korean fathers consider the child and the mother as a fleeting affair they just want to forget.”
Deacon Kim does her best in everything related to the matter of Kopinos, but she encounters financial restraints from time to time. For example, just a couple of days ago she struggled with how to find money to pay for the costs of childbirth for 18-year-old Sophie (not her real name) who was pregnant with a Kopino.
Koreans’ low level of awareness is another hardship for her. Her disappointment increases when Korean celebrities or politicians pay visits to the Center and only take photos for own satisfaction without any follow-up support.
Compared with the case of Japan, Korean responsibility gets a failing grade. Currently Japan supports “Japinos” actively. For the past 20 years, the Japan-Philippines Children’s Network has located approximately 500 Japanese fathers of Japinos, and requested and received child support costs from them.
Deacon Lee said, “Most Kopinos don’t know who their father is; and they live in poor villages or are left neglected on the streets. The Korean government and church, and Koreans in general, should help them to at least receive basic education.” (+63-917-582-0415)
Article and photo by Reporter Yeong Dae Yoo (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Manila, Philippines, with Yeara Ahn-Park (email@example.com)
Click here for the original article in Korean
Deacon Kim Sun-hui Operates a Kopino Care Center "Open Rainbow" in the Philippines