Byeonggun Lee, a 26-year-old from Pusan in the Republic of Korea, landed at Theruvoram in Kakkanad with an empty cloth bag and his passport.
Theruvoram’ at Kakkanad has become a home for needy men, women, and children who have no place to call their own. Two days ago, the shelter home opened its doors to a South Korean national who was found on the streets of Kochi by the police.
Byeonggun Lee, a 26-year-old from Pusan in the Republic of Korea, landed at Theruvoram with an empty cloth bag and his passport. With his limited vocabulary of English, he informed the police officers that he had no money to go back home. The police brought him to S. Murukan, who manages Theruvoram. The staff of Theruvoram gave him a new set of clothes and a temporary shelter. As they tried to find out more about the quiet Korean, they realised that his tourist visa permitting him to travel within India expires next week.
“After that he will become an illegal resident and could be arrested any time. We haven’t been able to get much information about him as he doesn’t speak much English. He has no possessions and no money for a ticket back home. Contacting the South Korean embassy will also be a long legal process. We are hoping that someone will come forward to help him very soon,” says Murukan.
Lee uses up his little knowledge of English to say that he arrived at Delhi on holiday in September last year with 900 USD in his hand. From there, he made his way to Varkala, where he lived near Sivagiri ashram, and then to Munnar and Kochi. He said he lived at a hotel in Varkala and even made friends there. But how did he end up on the streets without any money? “I used it all up,” he says.
He manages to convey that he enjoyed his stay at Varkala and that ‘porottas’ are his new favourite food. Back home, Lee, who plays the guitar, did odd jobs to make a living. He lived with his parents and younger brother, also a musician, in Pusan, says a staffer at Theruvoram. Lee’s passport shows that he also toured Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China.
The staff at Theruvoram are unable to get much else out of him about what exactly happened during his visit to Kerala. With no translator and no money, Lee might just end up in prison in a country where he came as a tourist.