Angelina Jolie speaks out for refugees, tours Yonsei campus, during weekend visit to Korea

By Lim Jeong-yeo
  • Published : Nov 5, 2018 - 20:11
  • Updated : Nov 5, 2018 - 20:11

What are your chances of running into a Hollywood superstar casually dining with her children at a local restaurant in South Korea?

Angelina Jolie was one of the least expected guests at Maple Tree House, a Korean barbecue diner in Samcheong-dong, downtown Seoul, on a Friday night. Yet, there she was, leaving the locals in her vicinity with gaping mouths and disbelieving camera snaps.

Instagram and Twitter were abuzz with people demanding to know if the rumors were true, and photos were posted in response.

Angelina Jolie dines at a Korean BBQ restaurant in central Seoul. (Reader contribution)

Jolie was traveling with her 14-year-old adopted son, Vietnamese-born Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt, and her 17-year-old adopted son, Cambodian-born Maddox Jolie-Pitt.

The family’s three days and two nights in Seoul included a campus tour of Yonsei University, one of the top-rated schools in Korea. Maddox has reportedly shown interest in the Korean culture and has taken Korean language classes.

Yonsei University says it hasn’t received any application from Maddox yet, but that it’s considering Jolie and her sons’ visit positively.

On Saturday, Jolie met with Korean actor Jung Woo-sung, who openly defends the Yemeni asylum seekers stranded on Jeju Island, the southernmost island in Korea.

Earlier this year, 481 Yemeni asylum seekers arrived on Jeju Island and applied for refugee status. Of those, 365 were granted a one-year stay in the country but denied refugee status.

Angelina Jolie meets with South Korean actor Jung Woo-sung, discuss Yemeni asylum seeker issue. (UNHCR)

Jung, an ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, faced backlash from Koreans who opposed the refugees’ presence, citing security concerns.

Jolie, a special envoy to UNHCR, met with Jung at the NGO’s Seoul office and thanked the actor for his support.

During an hourlong talk, Jung said the anti-refugee sentiment stems largely from ignorance and that the majority of Koreans do not have firmly established opinions on refugee issues.

Many Koreans are supportive of refugees but are silent, he said, while those who oppose them are loud. This makes Korea appear hostile toward refugees even though it isn’t, Jung told Jolie.

On Sunday morning, the last day of her visit, Jolie met with South Korean Justice Minister Park Sang-ki as the special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to thank the Korean government and all the people who supported the Yemeni asylum seekers.

Angelina Jolie meets with South Korean Justice Minister Park Sang-ki. (UNHCR)

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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