Innocent Victims: The Lai Daihan, Children Born from War

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War is the opposite of peace. It changes countries, it changes people, and it leaves all of the above in a shambles. When one thinks of the victims of war, what immediately comes to mind are its casualties, quantified in numbers that refer to soldiers on the battlefields and civilians caught in the crossfire, prisoners of war, buildings destroyed- and it’s true that these are all victims of war, all left behind from the sheer viciousness of country against country, philosophy against philosophy.

But perhaps most heartwrenching of all are the most innocent of victims, such as the children born from war. Their stories, though plenty, are not often told in screaming headlines on International publications, because they are themselves often hidden, outcasts of society, shameful to look at and think of, living in the poorest areas.

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The Lai Daihan (or Lai Dai Han) are such children. Born from Vietnamese women and prostitutes akin to the Japanese comfort women of the second world war, they were fathered by South Korean soldiers and workers during the Vietnam war. Stationed in Vietnam to fight against communism, the Korean military were known to be particularly brutal, abandoning the women they “loved”, pregnant and alone.

The children were born- how many is unknown; it’s been reported that there are anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 Lai Daihan. What is known is that these children were fatherless, and born to prostitutes and comfort women- not exactly a great start in life. Immediately shunned by society, the Lai Dai Han are neither Vietnamese nor Korean, unprotected by either.

Peace building, whether it’s in Asia or Europe or the Americas, requires forgiveness, but also an acceptance of responsibility. Who is responsible for the Lai Daihan?