Mentally Ill Korean Woman Gets Refugee Status

Mentally ill Korean woman gets refugee status

By Richard J. Dalton Jr.
Vancouver Sun
June 19, 2009
Comments (24)

VANCOUVER Canada has granted refugee status to a mentally ill South Korean woman and her daughter on grounds the treatment of psychiatric patients in their homeland is so inadequate, it amounts to persecution.

Mi Sook Oh, 42, initially sought refugee status in Canada by claiming she had been persecuted in her native South Korea by a church representative who had poisoned everyone against her, and she had been arrested and held three times against her will.

People around the world knew about her case, and her tormentor had close ties to former U.S. president George W. Bushs administration, she told the refugee board two years ago.

The Immigration and Refugee Board determined she was, in fact, persecuted not by a church representative, but by a South Korean health-care system that mistreats mentally ill patients.

Oh suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and had been forced into mental institutions three times in South Korea without treatment or medication, the refugee board concluded.

Based on that mistreatment, the board granted Oh refugee status in October.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration appealed the decision.

And, last month, a federal judge ruled in her favour.

The case opens the door to other mentally ill people from South Korea seeking refugee status in Canada, said Richard Kurland, an immigration and policy analyst and lawyer.

Whats unusual is the precedent that a Korean, female, mentally challenged person is expected to receive such treatment in Korea so as to amount to persecution, he said.

Kurland said the immigration minister appealed the decision to prevent similar future claims. They likely were concerned about the floodgate potential the case represents, he said.

South Koreans do not require a visa to visit Canada, making it easier to enter and claim refugee status, he said.

The immigration minister rarely appeals decisions by the refugee board, and its even rarer for him to lose, Kurland said.

They rolled the dice, and they lost, and they lost big, he said.

Vancouver Sun


Related Topics :

Surrey (British Columbia)
Bruce Anderson
Royal Canadian Mounted Police



June 20, 2009 – 9:07 AM
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I am really baffled by this one. Here we have Mr. Lennikov refused refugee status to stay in Canada with his family andwho will not be a burden to the system. He is gainfully employed and pays his taxes. Now we have Mi Sook Oh from South Korea who is an alleged paranoid schzophrenia stating persecution from the South Korean Health Care system seeking refugee status. A Federal Judge grants her the right to stay in Canada. Our legal system is truly screwed up given the above examples. So, who will take care of her and pay for her medical treatment? I guess we will pay for her well being. Richard Kurland is correct in his statement that this ruling will open the flood gates to other refugees to come to our haven in Canada. Mental patients in Canada will continue to be at the mercy of our inadequate health care system without the needed assistants or financial aid. Once again this is proof that the Federal government do not care about the welfare of our legal citizens in Canada. Shame on you.

Bad For The Future

June 20, 2009 – 9:03 AM
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If this stands, we will be taking every mentally ill person from alot of third world countries that do not have the ability to care for their people. By the way, Canada does not have the ability to care for the mentally ill in this country now. Just look at the DTES of Vancouver and you will see the very sad state of affairs right now. This is a blue print for a mental health disaster in our country. I strongly suggest that the people that made this determination have a mental check up themselves. They do not know how much damage they have done with this ruling. We also need to put in place the need for VISA'S from more countries, this will also require the Canadians will need a VISA to visit the same countries, A small price to pay to protect our way of life and all around security.


June 20, 2009 – 8:54 AM
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And we wonder what is wrong with the mental health system? Can a counrty that can't even support/look after the thousands of mentally ill population currently take on those from other countries???


June 20, 2009 – 8:51 AM
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She'll integrate and perform within Canadian society so well! Let's look for some more like her. What makes her daughter eligible? And who's helping our homegrown people with mental health issues? Yeah….. I thought so. Open Essondale/Riverview again. She can have a nice room there along with all the others who need a place to live and receive treatment. If she's got paranoid schizophrenia I'd hate to think the voices might tell her to harm some innocent passerby on the street. I'll bet they're lining up for tickets to Canada now in an array of foreign countries around the world. Sorry I don't care about her mental health issues. I care about how my son in law has been laid off and just who is going to look after his children who could actually be productive and pay taxes. Will this Korean mental case pay taxes?


June 20, 2009 – 8:50 AM
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This is absurd. We are not providing care for the mentally ill who were born here. As others have said, she may well end up pushing her belongings in a shopping cart around the downtown east side. If they have mental institutes in Korea then they are a step ahead of us. We closed all ours down so now our mentally ill sleep out in the rain and eat out of dumpsters.


June 20, 2009 – 8:44 AM
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What the hell is wrong with us? Are we determined to destroy this country?


June 20, 2009 – 8:43 AM
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maybe she'll be the next one to stab and kill and cut head off someone on a bus


June 20, 2009 – 8:34 AM
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This is a joke. We can't even take care of our own mentally ill, and yet now here's another foreigner coming to Canada using our tax-paying dollars. Selfish and disgusting. GO HOME!


June 20, 2009 – 8:32 AM
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This is absolutely ludicrous. The people responsible for making this decision should be thrown out of their positions. They are paid for by us taxpayers and they should have Canada's interests at heart first and foremost. This is blatantly the opposite.


June 20, 2009 – 8:25 AM
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It's not like we don't have enough people in this country requiring treatment, now we are importing them. More drain on the already over taxed social system.

DTES or bust

June 20, 2009 – 8:23 AM
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… because Canada does such a wonderful job dealing with our own mentally ill population. This is a bad precendent to be set. We need immigration that will contribute to our GDP. This one is, sad to say, keeping one more Canadian from getting care.

'whose' tax dollars??

June 20, 2009 – 6:47 AM
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Why don't we do a walk through of 'all' the countries that have inadequate psychiatric help (persecution), charter a jumbo jet and fly them all 'home' to Canada. What a great idea!

lol at you

June 20, 2009 – 6:40 AM
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I think you people should really took a look at where the government was wasting all of our tax payer's money i.e. Olympic village, fast ferry's… we could take in millions of the mentally ill and still come out on top! The government is stealing your hard earned money via income tax and wasting it on it's over paid politicians who make decisions on where that cash is going, right back into the select few's hands.

Draw the line

June 20, 2009 – 5:35 AM
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So does this open the door to every person with a mental illness or illness of any sort that lives in a country with poor health care systems to come to Canada and suck our medical system dry?? As much as I sympathize with this woman's plight I also seem to recall our medical system is collapsing because we have too many people on it that did not pay into it. Were is it that our bleeding heart country gets to draw the line and say “we can't afford you because we already have thousands of mentally ill and just plain ill citizens that we can't afford to treat properly”. Canadian's already have huge issues with our immigration board and this case reeks in symbolizing why.


June 20, 2009 – 2:37 AM
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and here i am, a retired man who worked over 35 years as a public servant, paid all my taxes, have no criminal record, money in the bank and no outstanding debt and have a steady pension income– and i am not able to bring my chinese wife (we have been together in china for 2 years) to canada with me for a visit for 1-2months so my family can meet her– absolutely p-ssed off with my country for treating me so shabbily– yet others get in easily and get special immunity or get support in a church sanctuary

The Cynic

June 19, 2009 – 9:58 PM
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Hmm…. I wonder how long it's going to take for Mr.Lennikov to adopt this mental illness ploy. I mean, think about it; it's like a double header for him. He's taken sanctuary in a church due to bouts of mental illness as a result of all those years pretending to be a KGB agent when he was really just a simple citizen in search of freedom.


June 19, 2009 – 9:53 PM
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Don't you know that there are many visitors coming to Canada and after arriving here they claim refugee claimants then recieved income assistance and can go to school with the expense of the tax payers mpney?


June 19, 2009 – 9:47 PM
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Unbelievable. Now we must accept the worlds mentally ill. What next? Some of these judges seem determined to destroy Canada. Per capita Canada already accepts 6 times the number of refugees as the U.S. does. Trudeau started this insanity and our “judges” are continuing.

Fed Up

June 19, 2009 – 9:47 PM
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Why are we such bleading hearts! Now the floodgates will be opened! Soon the rest of her no doubt large extended family will be coming over to live as well. When is this going to end? What's the matter with this country? I'd like to go live in the U.S., but because they are so much tougher, but I'd never get in. It looks like I am stuck in Hongcouver!

no prob

June 19, 2009 – 8:43 PM
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just drop her off on the downtown eastside to fend for herself like all the canadian born mentally ill.maybe the korean community should help to look after her expensive precedent says.we have tax paying seniors living in squalor,hungry,programs cut,now the government has accepted her,the doors open,pls make sure she's not a former KGB agent!!!!!!

bad move

June 19, 2009 – 8:26 PM
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Bad move Canada we can't look after our own never mind somebody elses


June 19, 2009 – 8:10 PM
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I'm from an immigrant family and I think this is absolutely crazy. Who is going to take care of her? It's nice to be compassionate but the country has to be willing and able to deal with the consequences of the precedence that this sets. Someone will have to address how to house and care for every mentally ill person who will suddenly show up on the doorstep as a result of this message. As I recall, we already have problems housing and caring all the mentally ill that are already here living on the streets. How about publicizing the names of the Immigration Board Members and federal judges so the public can hold them accountable for their decisions?

expensive precedent

June 19, 2009 – 7:49 PM
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This is going to set an expensive precedent. Why should Canada look after foreigners just because their own countries won't? Why should our tax dollars go to pay for other countrie's citizens when we can't even afford to help our own seniors who have paid taxes in this country for their entire lives?!