Search Results for: 2 foster children

2 Foster Children – 2 Success Stories

LFNKR Education Sponsorship Program  

The first inspiring story involves a 9-year-old foster child being supported under the LFNKR education sponsorship program who has reached South Korea and been restored to his mother.  This means that the child has graduated from our sponsorship program.

LFNKR’s 19th ANNUAL MEETING HELD ON OCT. 10, 2016

Annual Meeting Held in Tokyo

A summary of LFNKR activities during fiscal 2015 (Sept. 1, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2016) and the plans for the next fiscal year were outlined at the annual meeting. 

Stateless Foster Children in China

2013-06-noregister

By LFNKR local staff member in China

A group of typical students study at one of our foster care shelters in China. The shelter is situated near the North Korean border. It is true that the North Korean government provides facilities in each province to accommodate Kot-jebi (homeless street children).  However, since the facilities are chronically short of food, many children, driven by hunger, run away to seek food on their own. 

LFNKR’s 2012 Annual Report

Annual Report Released at 15th General Meeting 10/8/2012

Attending LFNKR’s 15th Annual Meeting in Tokyo this year were five North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan. They talked about how they had managed to survive and how they made a living in North Korea. They also discussed some of the difficulties they endured before finally making it to Japan.

LFNKR Foster Education Scholarships Up

 

Foster Parent Program

In early August of 2011, scholarships for the new fiscal year were awarded to our foster education children. And we were able to add one new child to those receiving scholarships for a total of 20 recipients. This latest child is a boy born in 2004. Like so many so-called “shadow children,” his mother is a North Korean defector, and his father is ethnic Han Chinese.

LFNKR Annual Report Released for 2011

Introduction

The new currency system initiated in November 2009 by North Korea has led to serious confusion in the country’s economy. As a result, poverty continues to deepen. Around November 2010, even in Pyongyang where relatively privileged people live, the supply of food has stopped. The currency revaluation slashed the currency to 1/100 of its previous value, but by March 2011, the price of rice per kilogram had risen to 1800 NKW. This is the same price it was before currency reform, and it indicates a complete failure of the government’s plan to suck money from its citizens.

Former Foster Child Weds – LFNKR Invited

Mr. Kato and Ms. Watanabe stand in as parents for the bride and groom, who are both former North Korean orphan refugees.

Mr. Kato and Ms. Watanabe stand in as parents for the bride and groom, both of whom are former North Korean refugees. 

_____________________________

It has been ten years since LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) staff members working in China found 10 North Korean orphans who had fled to China to escape the starvation. These first children were the stimulus that prompted LFNKR to begin an education sponsorship program that would enable us to protect them and provide them with an education.

Unexpected Gifts of Love for Foster Children

Hand-knitted scarves, hats, mittens donated by "Ms Warmheart"

Early Christmas Gifts from US Warm LFNKR Members’ Hearts, Too

On July 3, a package filled with knitted goods arrived at the LFNKR office in Tokyo. They were sent by a lady in the US, who knitted them all herself.

She wrote that as she knitted, she pictured the finished gloves, mufflers and caps warming the North Korean foster children who are in LFNKR’s education sponsorship program.

NK Foster Kids Write “Report Cards”

Foster Kids Send Their “Report Cards”  

Recently at the LFNKR office we received a packet of letters from our North Korean foster children in China, telling us about their school achievements. Clearly some of these children are gifted students, and it would be a tragic waste if they were denied an education. We are delighted that they are doing well and learning very rapidly. It is my hope that the happiness in their lives can continue.

Part 2 of Kim Chun Gun’s Story

His Dream – to Own a Yakitori Restaurant

Kim Chun Gun had only 1 month left until his visa expired when he decided to contact Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) – basically his last hope. When contacting us, Chun Gun mentioned that a Mr. Shin, the president of a Korean company, had suggested he get in touch with LFNKR.  He, however, knew President Shin only indirectly and had never actually met him.  He was told that President Shin, a humanitarian aid worker, had helped Chun Gun’s mother, who had already resettled in South Korea.  Still, Chun Gun was uncertain whether mentioning Shin’s name would even work.

Former Foster Child Visits Benefactor’s Grave in Japan

A Walk in the Shinobuyama Snow

On January 12, 2009, our group, LFNKR held an event to celebrate receiving this year’s Tokyo Bar Association Human Rights Prize. One of our former foster children, Song Hyuk (not his real name), flew from South Korea to attend the event with his girlfriend (also a North Korean defector) and Mr. Kim Sang Hun, a human rights activist.

Report on LFNKR Activities in FY 2007-2008

Annual Activities Report

Introduction

For the Beijing Olympics held in August 2008, the Chinese and North Korean authorities continued their strict crackdown on North Korean defectors in the border areas and in China.  The crackdown was so strict that even the transportation of public supplies were mostly prohibited.

Nevertheless, the inflow of North Korean defectors into China has not stopped, although the scale of the inflow is smaller than that during the period from late 1990s to early 2000s.  The Chinese government still arrests and repatriates North Korean refugees, knowing that these people will be severely punished if sent back to their own country.

International society still repeatedly protests the repatriations by the Chinese government.  The UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea has not yet been allowed access to conduct a probe of human-rights conditions in North Korea.

However, as the abuse of human rights in North Korea have become more widely disclosed around the world, international pressures on the North Korean government have grown.  For example, many nations have come to question the effectiveness of international food aid to North Korea and stopped responding to requests from the World Food Program (WFP).  There has been a tug of war between North Korea and aiding nations, which have specifically stated that they would provide food aid on condition that the North Korean government allow them to establish monitoring systems to assure their food aid will be properly used.

Reports from LFNKR local staff

According to recent reports from local staff members working at LFNKR’s shelters in the border area and LFNKR local workers in North Korea, the aged and children are starving to death in a village area located three railway stations inland from Musan, North Hamgyong, and deaths from malnutrition and starvation are starting up again in Hamhun, South Hamgyong and Chonjin in North Hamgyong.

Even large, first-tier corporations employing 2,000 or more have had to suspend their operations because they cannot procure materials, meaning that they cannot provide their employees with food. LFNKR has handed food to those people who came to China intending to return to North Korea once they had food.  During the past year, LFNKR has distributed more than 30 tons of food in the border area to these needy North Koreans.

Human Trafficking and Orphans with no Nationality

At least 60% of North Korean defectors are female, and most of them become victims of human trafficking.  Many of them are sold as brides to farmers in inland China because the villages in inland China are suffering from a shortage of marriageable women. Since the Chinese government launched its reform and opening-up policy, many young Chinese women in villages have moved away to urban areas in China, the South China economic bloc, South Korea and Japan where they can earn good pay.

In the Yanbien Korean Autonomous Region, about 8,000 Korean Chinese have been flocking to South Korea each year to work away from home. To fill this void, the Han people have moved into the region from other provinces.  The disappearance of the Korean Autonomous Region is considered only a matter of time.Many of the Chinese farmers to whom North Korean women are sold are incapable of making a living. Often they suffer from metal disorders, or have little sense of social responsibility.  Hence, if their North Korea wives are repatriated, the Chinese husbands tend to abandon any children they have.  This is why the number of children with no nationality is increasing yearly.

One of the major activities of LFNKR is to protect these abandoned children under its education sponsorship program.  LFNKR is happy to see those foster children raised under the program and eventually resettled in South Korea, where they can enjoy satisfying lives, attend university or technical college, and happily marry.[Chronological list of major activities during the last fiscal year]

Summary of Major Activities

  1. Participated in Thai International Conference on North Korean Refugees and Human Rights in North Korea held on Sept. 17-21, 2007
  2. Helped Tokyo Bar Association with their research on human rights in North Korea (Sept. 19, 2007)
  3. Held discussions with Guard Division, Japan Coast Guard (Oct. 2, 2007)
  4. Participated in Global Festival held in Tokyo to publicize the North Korean refugee issue (Oct. 6-7, 2007)
  5. Initiated a rescue plan for North Korean defector, Ms. R, who contacted LFNKR requesting help (Nov. 2, 2007)
  6. Successfully protected North Korean defector, Ms. E (Nov. 8, 2007)
  7. Attended at the 50th anniversary of Arakawa No. 9 Junior High School where North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan attend night classes (Nov. 11, 2007)
  8. Participated in NGO conference during the North Korean Human Rights Abuse Awareness Week (Dec. 14, 2007)
  9. Participated in the conference held in Sendai (city in northern Japan) one of a series of events for the North Korean Human Rights Awareness Week (Dec. 16, 2007)
  10. Mr. Kato, executive director of LFNKR, spoke on the North Korean human rights issue as a guest speaker at Christian University in South Korea (Dec. 20, 2007)
  11. Interviewed by Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN Special Rapporteur on NK Human Rights (Jan. 30, 2008)
  12. LFNKR received the family of a North Korean defector, Mr. K, who safely arrived in Tokyo (Jan. 30, 2008)
  13. Mr. Kato was a guest speaker at the international scholarly conference on North Korean human rights hosted by Christian University in South Korea (March 20, 2008)
  14. Mr. Kato was a guest speaker, at a public meeting hosted by Kanagawa Branch, the National Association for Rescue of Japanese Abducted by North Korea (March 23, 2008)
  15. Demonstrated with banners and placards protesting the North Korean human rights issue at the Olympics torch relay in Nagano, Japan (Apr. 26, 2008)
  16. Held discussions with NK & Beyond Missions International, a British NGO (June 6, 2008)
  17. Met with Open Radio North Korea
  18. Investigated development of a safe southern rescue route

Securing safety and protection of North Korean refugees

LFNKR has maintained a low-profile policy as much as possible in rescuing and protecting North Korean refugees. During the past year, no NGO humanitarian aid workers involved in LFNKR rescue activities has been arrested or held.

Most of LFNKR’s shelters, except for access points in the border area, are located in mountains to avoid the strict crackdown. LFNKR has supplied a total of about 20 tons of rice to more than 700 North Korean defectors and supplied about 500 sets of winter clothing and 2,000 pairs of socks to North Korean defectors.

One of LFNKR’s plans to help North Korean refugees wishing to settle in China is to help them acquire calves, so that they can raise and sell for profit. This should help the refugees become financially independent. This plan has been implemented at a few places in Jilin Province. So far, the plan has gone forward smoothly.

LFNKR has provided five North Korean refugee families (12 people) with protection until they reached safe places, and also helped one family (3 persons) to settle in Japan. LFNKR has assisted about 30 North Korean refugees in settling in South Korea. Among them are daughters of Japanese wives and the children of ethnic Koreans who originally lived in Japan.

Medical Aid

LFNKR distributed 350 family medical kits in North Korea. These medical kits were procured in China and Japan, and each kit includes pain killers, antiphlogistics, nutritional supplements, etc.

Educational Sponsorship Program

Currently, over 20 refugee orphans are protected under the LFNKR educational sponsorship program. Two new shelters have been added. The foster children under the program receive money to cover their living expenses and education expenses from LFNKR through its local staff responsible for the program. The foster parents are notified of how their foster children are doing by letters from the children or by LFNKR newsletters on an irregular basis.

Most of the foster children were born to Chinese men and North Korean women who were victims of human trafficking. These children have no “nationality” because the Chinese government continues to treat their mothers as illegal immigrants. Most of their fathers are incapable of making a living or are indifferent to raising children. Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities continue to arrest and repatriate their mothers, mothers who are trying to raise their children and therefore should be granted the legal right to stay in China.

It is a sad fact that the foster children are not allowed to have legitimate inhabitant registration certificates in China, so that cannot enter high schools or higher educational facilities, no matter how excellent their school record. Even if they try for a higher education, they are highly likely to be denied entry, and may even be arrested and repatriated. These children are abandoned not only by their parents but by the Chinese government as well. The number of such children now reaching school age continues to rise.

Assisting Settling in

LFNKR has worked together with other NGOs to help North Korean defectors reach safe places in third countries. LFNKR has helped a number of refugees settle in Japan when they have explicitly rdquested this by working together with related governmental divisions, NGOs, and the North Korean Refugee Support Center of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan).

Among the North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan, those who are aged or suffer from chronic diseases receive welfare benefits, while most young defectors relatively quickly graduate from welfare and start leading independent lives.

International lobbying

Especially significant among the international lobbying activities were the field survey of North Korean refugees in Thailand and the meetings with the Thai National Human Rights Committee, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Chiangrai Immigration Bureau as well as police in the Thailand/Laos border area. We held discussions with them primarily on human rights and how to improve conditions at the overcrowded detention center.

Report on Foster Parent Programme

A Look Back — A Look Forward

Although it seems like only yesterday that Life Funds for North Korean Refugees started its Foster Parent / Education Programme, it was actually begun back in 1998. The intervening ten years have seen the Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun administrations’ Sunshine Policy and policy of engagement of North Korea turn into de facto support for the Kim Jong Il regime. However, with the February election of the hard-nosed, pragmatic Lee Myung-Bak administration, the relationship between South and North looks set to change to one of reciprocity.

Proposed Action Plan for 2007-2008

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, NGO

Strained Relations

The crackdown on North Korean refugees by both the Chinese and North Korean governments has drastically cut the flow of North Koreans into China, reducing it to levels below those of the past decade. China’s official position is that North Korean refugees do not exist, a stance that blatantly ignores international law, including the Convention on the Status of Refugees, to which it is a signatory nation.

Report on LFNKR Activities in FY 2006

Annual Activities Report

It is now obvious that North Korean defectors are being widely recognized and accepted as a legitimate issue by the international community. According to the resolution unanimously passed by the UN General Assembly last December, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea has been urging the North Korean government to correct its serious infringement of human rights and to allow the rapporteur entry into the country to investigate human rights there.

LFNKR Action Plan for FY 2006-2007

Overview

Last year, a single charter flight from Vietnam carried 460 North Koreans into South Korea. This case had a strong impact on the international community and spotlighted North Korea’s human rights problems. It remains to be seen, however, what lessons it has taught the South Korean government, which fears a similar incident occurring in Thailand.

LFNKR Activity Report – FY 2005-2006

Annual Report 2006

Activity Report – Fiscal Year 2005-2006  

Pressure on the North Korean government by the international community is increasing thanks to greater international awareness of the grave human rights abuses committed by the North Korean government, in addition to the refugee and abductee issues.

No Mercy, No Justice for NK Mothers and Children

Mother of 5-year-old Repatriated to North Korea

In February, 2006, the mother of 5-year-old Kim Yong-soon was arrested and repatriated to North Korea. Six years ago, the mother, a young North Korean woman who had fled the country of her birth, was sold into a forced marriage to a Chinese man. She quickly became pregnant and gave birth to daughter Kim Yong-soon. This daughter, Yong-soon is being supported under LFNKR’s foster parent program. 

Border Report – January 2006

Winter street in Yanji, China

Women Sold, Babies often Abandoned

The following report is by an LFNKR staff member who visited the border area of North Korea and China in January 2006. The Tumen River running along the border was completely frozen. Standing on the riverside on the China side we could see Namyang, North Hamgyong on the other side, in North Korea. There were lookout posts about every 100 meters. Clearly, the crackdown on North Koreans attempting to escape into China has been stepped up even further.

Report – What We Did in Fiscal Year 2005

Sept. 2004 to Aug. 2005

On Oct. 9, 2005, LFNKR held its annual General Meeting in Tokyo. 

Kato Hiroshi addresses members at LFNKR General Meeting

Kato Hiroshi addresses members at LFNKR General Meeting

Former Foster Children Tell How They Became Orphans

Grace Yoon, whose father was arrested by the Chinese authorities on May 9, 2005 while attempting to help North Korean refugees, addressed the group.

Photos of the 3-Day Conference

Grace Yoon, whose father was arrested by the Chinese authorities on May 9, 2005 while attempting to help North Korean refugees, addressed the group.

LFNKR’s Activities — What We Accomplished in 2004

Current Situation of North Korean Refugees 

Recently, the world has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of North Korean refugees who, rather than continuing to hide in China, are choosing to escape to other Asian countries. Escape destinations include Mongolia, Russia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

LFNKR Annual Report Released

Introduction

When North Korea suddenly switched to a new currency in November 2009, the low limit for exchanges ensured that any savings accumulated in old currency by North Koreans largely vanished. This demonstrates that although the developing private market activity had only reached a rudimentary level, it was possible for people to accumulate new wealth. This growing segment of newly wealthy was dominating distribution and their voices began to be heard in their communities.

Survivor of NK Starvation Speaks

Movie poster for "Crossing"

NK orphan talks about the movie “Crossing”

At the Jan. 29 preview of the movie “Crossing” in Tokyo, one of LFNKR’s foster children joined the preview press conference to talk about her experiences.  An orphan, she had lost her parents to starvation in North Korea, but is now a university student in South Korea.  LFNKR members are happy see that she has grown into such a fine lady.  The movie apparently reminded her of her own childhood.

Donor Sends Warm, Hand Knitted Clothing

More Gifts from Ms. Warmheart

LFNKR’s foster children in China are excited to receive warm, stylish, hand-knitted caps and mufflers. The wonderful knits continue to arrive from Ms. Warmheart in the US, who personally knits each piece for LFNKR’s foster children.

LFNKR’s Kato Addresses Int’l Conference

Kato Hiroshi Speaks to International Conference

Speakers included: Willy Fautre (Human Rights without Frontiers, President); Vincent Brossel (Reporters without Borders); David Hawk (human rights investigator and advocate and author of “the Hidden Gulag”); Chuck Downs (US Committee for NK HR); and Hiroshi Kato (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees).

Text of Kato Hiroshi’s Speech

It is my privilege and honor to present this speech here at the North Korean Human Rights Campaign 2008

Our main purposes at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees are: first, to provide humanitarian aid and protect the human rights of North Korea defectors in China and Southeast Asia; and second, to reach out to people in North Korea with food and medicine.

Out of 100,000 North Korean refugees hiding out in Northeastern China, about 70-100 are under LFNKR’s protection as of July 2008.

In my opinion, the worst form of human rights violation is human trafficking. The number of human trafficking victims is not yet clearly known, but we estimate the number to be more than 70% of all defectors. An investigation conducted in the villages where our shelters are located showed that 10-20% of all villagers are North Korean women who have been sold to Chinese men in the village. Out of 60,000-70,000 women defectors, at least half are of childbearing age.

Babies between Han Chinese and ethnic Koreans will reach 30,000-35,000, most of whom are unregistered.

The youngest victim of human trafficking I have met was 8 years old at the time she was sold. She was brought up in an ethnic Korean family in Heilong City, Jilin Province, but was sold for 1,500 RMB to an ethnic Chinese man at the age of fourteen. She gave birth at the age of 19. After the baby was born, she was sold again by a broker to a different man, and unfortunately I do not know where she is now. Girls being sold by a broker after childbirth are now very common to see.

The price of women varies: usually 5,000-10,000 RMB (approximately $500-1,000 US dollars), for girls up to the age of 20; 3,000-5,000 RMB (or $300-500 US dollars), for up to the age of 30; 2,000-2,500 RMB ($200-250 USD) for up to the age of 40 with a child; and 500-1,000 RMB (or $50-100 US dollars) for children.

However, this year, the price has increased. A woman in her 20s is sold at the price of 20,000 RMB because the number of female North Korean defectors is decreasing. North Korean women seem hesitant to escape the country due to the crackdown operation for the security of the Beijing Olympic Games, as well as forced repatriation that entails serious threats to life upon being returned to North Korea.

The trafficking of North Korean women goes back to 1985 when it was not yet as systematic. It was mere match-making organized by a broker for a rural Chinese man who could not marry in an orthodox way. At that time, the Chinese government welcomed them, and there was neither arrest nor forced repatriation. (But this has now become an organized business-like activity.)

Young women from three provinces in Northeast China that were excluded from China’s open economy reform policy started to move to the Southern China Economic Zone, Japan and Korea to find work. As a result, the female population in these rural areas has decreased considerably. The demand for North Korean women naturally became greater. The role of young North Korean women in replacing ethnic Chinese women was considered significant. The brokers taking advantage of the situation started to appear during this time and it became more organized and business-like.

In the late 1990s, the food rationing system of North Korea collapsed.

North Koreans seeking food started to escape to China, and from 1997 there was a massive influx of people from North Korea into China.

Ethnic Koreans in China provided their starving brethren with food and clothing. However, due to some people trying to take advantage of the goodwill of these ethnic Chinese, and an increased crime rate, the Chinese government started to strengthen the policy concerning North Korea defectors.

In 2000, trafficking of North Korean women became more serious. More women had risked their lives escaping to China and fell into the clutches of brokers. The reports made by staff members in charge of our shelters outlines many of these cases.

The Chinese police, in secret communication with the North Korean National Security Agency, has prosecuted these women who are illegally married to rural Chinese men. If a woman who had a child at the time of marriage is prosecuted, then the child no longer receives any protection and becomes an orphan. The child usually survives by helping with farming, taking care of cows in return for room and board.

The children of North Korean women sold to Chinese men face a bleak future. An infant can choose neither his or her own country nor parents. A mother has no choice but to sell herself.

Because the stay of these women is illegal their children are also stateless. They are not Chinese and not North Koreans either. They have no right to education or anything else. They have no human rights and are staying illegally. These children are languishing in extreme poverty.

Early last year, the mother of 5-year-old Kim Yong-soon was arrested and repatriated to North Korea. Her crime? Leaving the starvation in North Korea and seeking survival in China.

But once this young woman had escaped North Korea six years ago, she was quickly sold into a forced marriage to a Chinese man, and just as quickly became pregnant. This is how she came to give birth to daughter Kim Yong-soon. The daughter, Yong-soon is now being supported under LFNKR’s foster parent program.

Our people, the LFNKR local staff in China, reported to us that it will be impossible for her to return again, since this is her third repatriation.

You know, you have to wonder why it is that Chinese government policies show no mercy to families. They callously tear them apart, separating mothers and children with no regard to human feeling.

In Yanji, Longjin, and other cities near the border between China and North Korea, the two countries have intensified their joint crackdown.

North Korean authorities provide Chinese security police with information on North Korean defectors, and the Chinese police follow up relentlessly. These police personnel are highly motivated — their government is paying high bounties. For each North Korean refugee they arrest, someone puts 2,000 RMB in their pocket. That bounty payment equals the monthly salary of most university graduates in China.

Over the years, human rights NGOs, International organizations and foreign governments have made numerous appeals. They have asked the government of China about this issue of North Korean defectors in China.

The Chinese government has ignored these appeals. In fact, they have never bothered to respond at all, and meanwhile they continue to forcibly return North Korean refugees to face the certainty of brutal persecution in North Korea. This is an obvious and blatant defiance of humanitarianism. The Chinese government clearly has no interest in what the international community thinks.

UNHCR’s appeals to the government of China are always ignored. Beijing has also ignored the appeals of the South Korean government on behalf of aid workers arrested for helping North Korean refugees.

The two lessons to be learned from past incidents are these: first, China responds only to a strong show of force. And second, the last thing that works with the Chinese government is an appeal to humanitarian consideration. China is submissive to the stronger, but shows no mercy to the weaker.

The North Korean defectors are in a position of strength when they are in the custody of foreign embassies and weak if they are outside the custody of a strong power.

I now publicly issue a call to all South Korean activists and North Korean defectors. From this moment forward, I urge you to direct your efforts to collecting evidence, testimony and information that provides full details for the international community in general and the UN Special Rapporteur, in particular.

In addition, we all should take this occasion to acknowledge, with profound thanks, all the efforts that have led to successfully exposing North Korean Crimes against Humanity. We can be proud of the widespread call for justice that was demonstrated by the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in the US Congress, the series of resolutions adopted by the UN, among many others, and the resolution on human rights in DPRK, which the UN General Assembly approved last December.

As a next step, I would like to see the UN Security Council raise the issue of creating an International human rights investigation team to be dispatched to North Korea. I do recognize, however, that the chances of that happening are quite slim with Russia and China on the Council. They are very likely to block any such efforts.

Since North Korea’s crimes are of the most serious nature, we cannot just stop here. I suggest that we approach the International Criminal Court by presenting hard evidence, verified information and solid proof. Obtaining this kind of evidence and proof from inside North Korea is definitely a realistic possibility because, in recent years, many North Korean officials have grown increasingly demoralized as they face mounting personal danger in the ongoing power struggles.

We should redouble our efforts now toward obtaining undeniable and credible information from inside North Korea — information that is so strong and so convincing that it must be taken to the International Criminal Court.

In closing my speech today, and with your permission, I wish to personally call upon the entire international community to intervene decisively in the North Korean situation. It is a matter of international responsibility — clearly so.

Let us, therefore, create a living reality that some day all innocent North Korean prisoners, as well as all South Korean and Japanese abductees, will know for a fact that they were never for a single moment forgotten by the people of the world.

Thank you.

Letters from NK Refugee Kids in Hidden Shelters

Refugee child in one of LFNKR's shelters writing to foster parent in Japan.

June 2008

LFNKR recently received letters from several of our foster children who are currently in first to third grades of elementary school. These children are being supported under LFNKR’s education sponsorship program. In their letters to their foster parents, the children mainly report on their school records.

Two Former NK Refugees Now Happily Wed

By Midori Yotsuya, LFNKR Member

It was Aug. 30, just after the 4th General Meeting in Seoul of IPCNKR (International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights). We headed to a small hotel to meet some of the foster children that LFNKR had formerly supported under our education sponsorship plan. They had all lived together like a family for several years at the same LFNKR shelter in China after fleeing from North Korea. Some of them are now young adults in their early twenties.

LFNKR’s Kato Speaks on Human Trafficing of NK Women

Kato Hiroshi, of LFNKR, speaks on human trafficking of NK women

Speech by Kato Hiroshi, Executive Director
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor for me to be here today and I would like to thank The Committee for the Bangkok International Conference for North Korean Human Rights for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees.

Former NK Orphan Sends Thanks Email in English

Hungry to Learn

LFNKR members were excited to receive a series of emails in English from one of our former foster children, a North Korean orphan whom we sheltered in China, then helped escape to safety in South Korea. The young man, Chol Song Kim, was born 5 Feb. 1985. Although Chol Song received the bare minimum of education during his years of hiding, now that he is safe in South Korea, he is eagerly making up for lost time. He recently went to Australia for a short, intensive English course.

LFNKR Exhibits at NGO Festival in Osaka

LFNKR booth at One World Festival

LFNKR’s Booth at One World Festival

More than 100 NGOs and NPOs in Japan joined the One World Festival held for two days at Osaka International Communications Center (Feb. 3rd and 4th). Many groups participated in the event under the theme “Bringing the world closer through education, interaction and mutual assistance.” The groups are working to help resolve today’s global issues of environmental destruction, poverty, repression of human rights, ethnic conflict, and refugees. Approximately 12,600 guests visited the exhibition during the 2-day event.

North Korea Calls Japanese NGOs Kidnappers

NGO Members Accused of Abduction

The people of Japan were amazed February 7 when television and newspapers announced that North Korea had accused Kato Hiroshi and 6 other Japanese NGO members of abducting North Korea citizens. Kato is Secretary-General of our NGO, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR). The accusations came during the 3-day bilateral talks with Japan that, it was hoped, would help to resolve the ongoing dispute over Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents during the last three decades. The talks were held in Beijing.

Joint NGO-Lawmaker Conference on NK Refugees

Three Days in Tokyo:  July 30 ~ August 1, 2005

The Conference, which drew NGOs and activists from around the world, began with two days of presentations and information on North Korean refugees, abductees and humanitarian aid workers detained in China. The conference culminated on the third day with The Second General Meeting of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR).

Joint Assembly of International Lawmakers, NGOs

More Crackdowns in China

The Chinese government continues to intensify its crackdown on North Korean refugees, with an eye to eliminating them before the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Meanwhile, the South Korean government, the first you would expect to protect North Korean refugees, appears increasingly reluctant to accept them.

NGOs, Lawmakers Receive Update on LFNKR Activities

China Claims 62 NK Defectors Not Repatriated Yet 

Beijing officials are denying media reports that they repatriated 62 North Korean defectors. South Korea’s Joong Ang Daily stated on Nov. 12 that China is denying earlier news reports of returning the 62 to North Korea. Authorities in Beijing are reportedly claiming that the defectors are still undergoing processing prior to repatriation at a detention center near the border with North Korea. 

Boy Spends Life in Hiding, Finally Shot to Death

Mid-March 2004 -- In his last hiding place. Chol-hun has grown into a young man. Three weeks later he was dead.

Chinese Guard Kills NK 17-Year-Old Refugee Right at Mongolian Border

Mid-March 2004 — In his last hiding place. Chol-hun had grown into a fine young man. Three weeks later he was dead. 

On April 20 this year, LFNKR received reports that a 20-year-old man was fatally shot when Chinese border guards interrupted an escape attempt by 24 North Korean defectors as they were crossing the border into Mongolia from Manzhouli, China.

Noguchi May Face Hurry-Up Trial in China

STATEMENT

The trial of Takayuki Noguchi, the Japanese aid worker arrested by China last December, will take place in early May, reports Yomiuri Shimbun, the leading Japanese newspaper, in a 2 May article by Hong Kong based reporter Yasuharu Seki.

Noguchi, who was working for our organization, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), was arrested late last year for attempting to help two Japanese-born North Korean refugees escape from China (more details here).