Why This NGO Was Founded

A child writes her foster parents a letter

There are currently many refugees from North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) living in hiding in Russia and China. Credible sources put this number at somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000.

Among those refugees are many who crossed the border to escape starvation from the widespread food shortage in their country. Many others crossed the border to flee torture, prison camps or public execution.

Our NGO is just a small citizens’ group in Japan. We have no particular political stance, ideology or religious preference.

We simply have learned of the refugees and their great difficulties. And we have heard their compelling plea: “We want to live. Please help us.”

Some here in Japan protest that “this is too big a task for us… let the government handle it.” Some say that “This is a Japanese NGO, so it should concentrate on helping only returnees to Japan and Korean residents in Japan.

But we cannot ask people their hometowns before deciding whether we will help them. We do not think it is right to extend help only if they have relatives in Japan, nor to turn our backs on them if they were born in North Korea. Every one of those refugees risked their very lives to escape.

Japan and the Korean Peninsula share a tragic history that includes episodes of colonial rule and wars. As a result, there were nearly 100,000 ethnic Koreans born in Japan who chose to return to their fatherland, though they had never before set foot on their native soil. In most cases, they made that decision after suffering severe racial discrimination and poverty in postwar Japan. They chose to try and help restore their fatherland, which had been burnt away during the Korean War, rather than sit and suffer silently in Japan.

With soaring motives, they returned to their fatherland with high hopes. But what did they find there? Rather than the socialist paradise on earth or the utopia that they had hoped for, they faced still further discrimination, piled upon poverty, heaped upon starvation.

One of the important lessons that history teaches is the importance of never discriminating against another for physical characteristics, race, nationality, age, handicap, nor any other reason. This includes country of origin, occupation, ideology, and creed.

How many North Korean refugees can be saved by this small, weak citizens’ group in Japan? It is said that the North Korean refugees number possibly into the hundreds of thousands. If the North Korean state were to collapse, then we could conceivably see twenty-two million refugees.

These figures, though overwhelming, do not mean we should simply give up. What could we say to those who cry out to us for a helping hand? It is the warm humanitarian rescue efforts of each individual member of this citizens’ group that stands as a beacon of hope for the suffering refugees who have fled North Korea.

4 Responses to About

  1. Rachel says:

    My name is Rachel Wittman. I’m a senior in high school in the U.S. and I participate in a little club called Model United Nations. I’m using your NGO in a position paper (which states what solutions I want to make). Hopefully this seed I’m planting in the minds of 16 other students who are just like me will help your NGO to grow across the region in the future; for the minds of MUN students are the minds that will run the United States within 20 years.

    • Adminn says:

      We are happy to hear from you and delighted to hear about your future plans. It is our mission to pass along important information and help motivate people all around the world to be more aware of how serious human rights violations are in North Korea and around the world.

  2. Well here is hoping the language barrier doesn’t get in the way. I would like to help if I can, I’ve been following the events in north korea for years, but I did not know that groups of people existed that were trying to save people. I will be sure to let my local media and news workers know I am not happy about that. I recently heard of the lies being spread by the North Korean regime about american citizens, and I hate when someone lies about me. Please let me know if I can help. Those people in North Korea deserve a much better quality of life.

    • Admin says:

      Jonathon, thank you for your continued interest in the difficulties that North Koreans face. One of the things we recommend that people do to help is exactly as you said. Contacting the media and political representatives of your country is the surest way to present a common message all around the world. One recent example is mentioned in our recent annual report http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/2014-annual-report/
      Machiko, LFNKR

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