Korea's Children Left Behind

Their laughter makes it all the harder to accept that these are abandoned children.

They're called IMF orphans...after the International Monetary Fund, whose stern economic medicine could salvage South Korea's tumbling economy.

But the IMF is being blamed by the Koreans for bankruptcies, families falling apart, and for the littlest victims, the children at Angel's Haven Orphanage. CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen reports.

"My father left me here," says seven year old Bo..."but it's okay. I have friends here."

"My parents visit every Thursday," brags four-year-old Min. Later we learn it's make believe. Her parents have never come back.

It used to be in Korea that children had to be abandoned on a street corner before they could be turned over to an orphanage. But Korea's reversal of fortune has changed even that. Now parents can bring these young children directly to the orphanage, and walk away.

There's been a 30 percent increase in abandoned children. When they miss their families, Nurse Kim says, "all I can do is hug them."

Six-year-old Jin Young is lucky. His father visits weekly.

"My wife died last year," Che Young explains. "My construction job is gone. I'm broke."

"I miss my son," he tells us, "and he's lonely here. If I get work...I'll take him back." But many parents are gone for good.

"I hope some time they come back, they get their own children," says Angel's Haven executive director Cho Kyu Hwan.

Church is a regular outing although these are not exactly little angels. What do they pray for? "What does any child want? To be loved...not left behind," says Nurse Kim.

The sin is not theirs. But the hurt is.
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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