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Past News Highlights

Public Executions Captured on Smuggled


Video Shows Prisoner Beating


Our Worker Imprisoned in China

NK Freedom Day Rally in DC

29 Seek Sanctuary in Japanese School

US Congress Passes NK Human Rights Act


Open Letter

Boat People Update

Aid Worker Trial

Crackdown Update

12 Escapees Captured


2-Faced Policy

NGO Head Arrested

LFNKR Speaks in Seoul

LFNKR Registered Mail to China's
Jiang Zemin




Refugee Rescue Activities - 2005
Our group (LFNKR) was founded in 1998 as a non-partisan non-governmental organization with no political, religious, or corporate affiliations. The 20 founding members each contributed $100 out of their own pockets. We held meetings in coffee shops rather than having an office, and did our photocopying at a local print shop.

A List of Resources on North Korea
Want to learn more about the issues and people involved? Here is a list of suggested resources to help round out your knowledge. Also included are the resource pages of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, plus a short list of incisive, clearly written books you may find useful.

T-Shirts Publicize NK Refugee Struggle
Help us support and rescue North Korean Refugees and receive one of these imprinted shirts by mail. Designed and produced by one of our members, these white t-shirts are imprinted with a plea for help.

Report - What We Did in FY 2005
Last year, among its many activities, LFNKR stepped up efforts to develop new routes through which North Korean refugees may escape to third countries. It also secured more “underground railroad” routes in addition to those already established.

Video Reveals Prisoner Beating
On September 25, Free North Korea Broadcasting, a South Korean NGO, released footage of a female North Korean defector being beaten and kicked during interrogation on Aug. 17 at a guard post on the China-Korean border...

Clothe a North Korean Refugee for Just $20
LFNKR is working on measures to supply winter clothing to 400 North Korean refugees now in secret local shelters in China. Each set of winter clothing will include new undergarments, outer wear, shoes and warm winter coat or heavy sweater.

UN Working Group Calls Arrest Arbitrary
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a report on May 27, 2005 calling China's detention of Choi Yong Hun "arbitrary." This term means he is in prison without just cause. Further, his detention is "in contravention of the provisions of article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," according to the report, and the Group called upon China to rectify the situation.

Joint NGO-Lawmaker Conference on NK Refugees
The Conference drew NGOs and activists from around the world to discuss North Korean refugees, abductees and humanitarian aid workers detained in China. On the third day, 40 lawmakers from 4 nations held the Second General Meeting of IPCNKR.

Former Foster Children Tell How They Became Orphans
Three of LFNKR's former foster children talked about their experiences in North Korea and China. They were surprised by the keen interest of journalists who were waiting eagerly for them to arrive.

Documentary "Seoul Train" Screened
Director-Producer Jim Butterworth twice showed his award-winning film and spoke about the problems daily faced by North Korean Refugees hiding in China. Butterworth fielded questions in a Q&A session following the first screening that lasted for more than two hours.

In-Depth Overview of NK Refugee Issues
Tim Peters, founder of Helping Hands Korea, gave lawmakers and NGO representatives an overview of current difficulties and challenges. In addition, he offered practical suggestions and possible courses of action that those attending could take back to their home countries.

Daughter Pleads for Help Freeing Her Father
Reverend Phillip J. Buck is currently being held in Yanji, China for assisting North Korean Refugees. At age 68, his health is poor, and despite being hospitalized once, authorities refuse to let him go. His daughter calls for help to win his release before...

NK Refugees Being Overlooked
The Six-Party talks in Beijing are dangerously close to overshadowing the struggles of five North Korean refugees, as their stories become dwarfed by the "big picture" and verge on being forgotten....

Joint Assembly of International Lawmakers, NGOs
A 3-day Joint Assembly of Lawmakers and NGOs from a number of countries will begin in Tokyo on Saturday, July 30. The purpose - to encourage worldwide efforts to rescue North Korean refugees. Meanwhile, China toughens its crackdown...

China Tries to Stifle Award-Winning Documentary
Several film festival producers quietly passed the word to  director-producer Jim Butterworth recently that Chinese embassies have been applying pressure to discourage showing of his SEOUL TRAIN documentary. The film reveals China's role in sending North Korean refugees back to face prison, torture and even execution.

Public Executions Captured on Video
Video footage, secretly taped and smuggled out of North Korea at great risk, capture two outdoor trials. Each of these public trials is followed immediately by executions. Now a DVD is available showing these executions -- see the proof.

A Long Way to Freedom - Book, 297 pages, Paperback or PDF
One refugee family’s journey to safety. Follow their daring escape from North Korea, then their years of hiding. Experience bravery, fortune, failure, and defeat through the eyes of one family. Go with them as they ultimately reach safety and freedom against all odds. Researcher Douglas Comish spent months interviewing refugees hiding in China, then writing the story of their daily struggle to survive.

Lawmaker Proposes Human Rights Law in Japan Diet
Diet member, Masaharu Nakagawa, has sponsored a parliamentary bill addressing current problems with North Korea, including the long-standing issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese citizens. Full text of the draft bill is quoted.

Crisis Looming Over 2008 Beijing Olympics
On Jan. 12, 2005, a group of men in plain clothes burst into a press conference being held by four South Korean lawmakers, harrassing attendees and speakers, and refusing to identify themselves. This report also includes the official statement by the lawmakers after the attack.

Protests Held at Chinese Embassy, Consulate in Japan
Three Japanese organizations demonstrated on Dec. 22nd to protest Chinese repatriation of North Korean refugees. The protests, which took place before China's embassy in Tokya and the Consulate in Osaka, attracted about 45.

Japanese TV Airs Interview with LFNKR Foster Children
"A boy, about 15, lies dead on the street. All his belongings are gone." So begins the documentary. See how NK street children live, how they scramble to survive. And learn what LFNKR does to protect and educate some of them. Watch this 16-min. video online (English subtitles).

NK Refugee Park Yong-chol Repatriated
Kim Bong-soon brings news from her imprisoned husband in China that North Korean refugee Park Yong-chol was secretly repatriated from the Chinese prison to North Korea in October this year after serving most of a 2-year sentence.

LFNKR's Activities -- What We Accomplished in 2004
More aid to North Korean defectors hiding in China. More help for our dozens of foster children. And changes in our activities because of the shifting political realities in China, North Korea, and other interested nations.

NGOs, Lawmakers Receive Update on LFNKR Activities 
During our two days in Seoul, we visited more than 60 Grand National Party (GNP) members of the Korean National Assembly. We sought their support for NK refugees and their help in gaining the immediate release of Mr. Choi Yong-hun, who has now served 22 months of a 5-year sentence for assisting NK defectors.

Lawmakers Protest Aid Worker Imprisonment 
Read the text of a postcard mailed by Grand National Party members of the National Assembly, South Korea. The card was addressed to the Chinese Ambassador stationed in South Korea.

North Korean Holocaust Exhibition in Seoul 
was held from November 8 - 10, 2004, at the National Assembly Members Building in Yeoido, Seoul, The exhibition included hundreds of photos, letters, diaries, models, and artifacts from refugees. Over the past ten years, many have risked their lives to collect these materials.

Chinese Government Siezes More Refugees
Officials raided two NK refugee safe houses in the Tong Chow section of Beijing on October 26th, and arrested 65 NK refugees who were waiting to be rescued, along with 2 South Korean human rights workers. Among them were 11 teenagers and one man aged over 70.

U.S. Congress Passes Bill to Aid North Koreans  (PDF Doc; 17 pages)
Both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed The North Korea Human Rights Act, then on 18 Oct. 2004, the president signed it into law. It provides useful new tools to help both those who flee the North Korean regime and those who are trapped inside the country.

13-year-old Boy Escapes NK Prison, Relates His Story  
This is an email from a boy from North Korea, now hiding inside China somewhere. The activist who forwarded his note to us said, "I have read many stories of the NK refugees, but this may be the worst. It made me physically sick."

Asylum Seekers Arrested inside American School  
On Monday, September 27, eight North Korean women and children entered the Elementary school building of the Shanghai American School, where school administrators called Chinese Police, then surrendered the refugees to the authorities....

NK Vendetta  
Six North Korean refugees, after their arrest in Shanghai, were deported to North Korea, where they face likely death. They are the two sons and a niece of Mrs. Shin Jung Ae, as well as the second son’s wife and two children, aged 2 and 7.....

29 Seek Sanctuary in Japanese School  
It was a quiet midmorning in Beijing when a group of North Korean refugees, including 3 children, 15 women, 11 men, made their way into a Japanese school. Once inside, they requested asylum and safe passage to a third country....

Choi Yong Hun Not Receiving His Mail in Prison
Wife and two daughters visit NK aid worker. She reports:

"Before we were allowed to enter the prison, guards inspected every item we had brought for my husband. They even ripped open cigarette packages. Eventually, they let us carry in only the medicines we had brought....

NK Prison Camp Book Goes to National Libraries
Letters of thanks are coming in from national libraries who received the book of eyewitness accounts related by NK Prison Camp survirors. Electronic PDF version also available to download from this website...

Noguchi Back From China Imprisonment
9:00 PM - 9th August: Takayuki Noguchi walked through the arrival gate at Narita Airport, after an 8-month prison sentence for helping two Japan-born North Korean refugees. At an impromptu news conference...

Int'l Conference on NK Refugees
The First International Planning Conference for the Rescue of North Korean Refugees and Humanitarian Aid Workers hosted by the Japanese and Korean NGO Coalition was held in Tokyo on 18-19 July 2004. The 2-day Conference developed action items to promote international awareness of North Korean refugees and humanitarian aid workers...

Japan's Foreign Ministry Betraying its Citizens?  
Responding to the predicament of Takayuki Noguchi, a Japanese citizen detained overseas, Japan's Foreign Ministry, though charged with defending its citizens, has sided with Chinese officials, who claim that Noguchi is guilty of breaking Chinese laws...

Noguchi Sentenced to 8 Months
The sentencing of Takayuki Noguchi, a member of the Japanese NGO Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), was held At 10 AM 28 June 2004 at Chong Zuo Intermediate People’s Court in Nanning, Guangxi in China.

Boy Spends Life in Hiding, Finally Shot to Death  
China claimed he was 20, and that he attacked the guard. Now we learn that he was 17 years old and running away. Photos of Chol-hun's short, tragic childhood...

Noguchi Gets Rare Sunday Trial  
The trial of Takayuki Noguchi, the Japanese aid worker arrested by China last December, was convened at 9:00AM Sunday, May 9, China time in Chong Zuo Intermediate People's Court. The time, which seemed chosen to minimize public attention...

North Korea Freedom Day Rally in Washington DC  
On April 28, people from both Asia and the US converged on Washington DC to attend the North Korea Freedom Day Rally. Journalists and news crews from the major networks...

Noguchi May Face Hurry-Up Trial in China  
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 a Hong Kong based reporter...

Special US Report on NK Refugees    (PDF Document - 7 pages)
In June 2004, Joel R. Charny of Refugees International spent one week in Jilin province in China interviewing 38 North Korean refugees. They live, Charney found, a precarious and clandestine existence as illegal migrants...

NK Refugee Killed by Chinese Border Guard
A 20-year-old North Korean defector was reportedly shot and killed on 2 April when a group of 24 defectors were stopped while attempting to cross the border from China into Mongolia...

UN Eyes North Korea Human Rights     (PDF Document - 7 pages)
The United Nations on 15 April passed a resolution on the DPRK expressing serious concerns aboiut human rights in that country. They established a UN Special Rapporteur...

Christian Solidarity Alerts EU to NK Prisoner
Park Yong-chol may die very soon after his release from prison in China. If he is repatriated to North Korea (which is standard procedure), he faces...

China to Prosecute Noguchi
He was attempting to help the two refugees because their lives would likely be in jeopardy if they were repatriated to North Korea...

Lawyers Look Into China's Illegal Jailing of Japanese Citizen
On 2 April, 2004, our group, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), submitted to the Human Rights Protection Committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations a statement urgently calling for the rescue of victims of human rights violations...

Hunger Strike Spreading Among Detained NK Refugees
According to The Commission to Help North Korean Refugees (a South Korean based NGO), news reports are beginning to filter out of China about a hunger strike among North Korean detainees who are being held in a facility preparatory to their shipment back home where they are sure to face prison or worse...

A demonstration was held at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, by our group jointly with another NGO. This demonstration was in response to the hunger strike by North Korean refugees ...
Read more here

Japanese Lawmaker Versus China
Japanese lawmaker Masaharu Nakagawa, member of Japan's House of Representatives was in China March 22-25 to survey the human rights situation there, and to inspect Nanning he prison where Takayuki Noguchi, a member of this Japanese NGO, has been held since Dec. 10 last year...

Biological Experiments
on Political Prisoners
Read the witnesses' statements here


Our Aid Worker Still Held by China
Press Conference in Tokyo on Feb 22
Press Conference in UK Parliament on Feb 11

Lawmaker photographs Noguchi's prison
China may try Noguchi
Report on European support for Noguchi
Read more about Noguchi's arrest
Takayuki Noguchi's personal profile
Protest letter you can mail to China
Support letter you can mail to UNHCR
Mother visits Noguchi in Chinese Jail
Please write Japan's Foreign Ministry
American writer: "Noguchi is a hero"
US Senator mails Noguchi plea


Are Refugees Freezing to Death?
Read more here
Hunger Strike Spreading
Among Detained NK Refugees
Read more here

Seok Jae-hyun (picture below)
Suddenly Released from Jail
after serving 14 months of a 2-year term

Read the full story here

Two Workers Tried, Convicted

On Dec. 11, 2003 a Chinese court utterly ignored pleas from the International community and its own country's pledge to uphold the Convention on Refugees.

That court sentenced aid worker Choi Yong-hun to 5 years in prison.

At the same time, photojournalist Deok Jae-hyun received a sentence of 2 years in a Chinese prison.

The crime of these two men? Helping their fellowman. Read the background details below.

Aid Worker


Aid Worker

LFNKR Statement - Feb. 13, 2003

China should join the international community to resolve the issue together

China, despite repeated requests from other governments and human rights and other international organizations, continues to arrest and detain North Korean defectors as well as the humanitarian aid workers trying to assist them.

China shows no signs of stopping. Instead, it has intensified the crackdown, arresting and repatriating North Korean refugees, who face severe punishment for treason, up to and including the death penalty, under the laws of North Korea, when handed over to their own country.

Read the entire statement here.

Background Information
on the 58 Arrested Refugees

Appeal Proceedings to be Closed Session
Letter from Aid Worker's Daughter

Newsman, Aidworkers Face 2nd Session May 22
Aid Worker Trial Hardly Noticed by Press
Our Letter to China Justice Ministry
Aid Workers May Face Prison
The Jan. 21 Press Conference
China Must Protect Asylum Seekers
List of Refugees
Statement by Sang Hun Kim
Statement by MSF
Chronology of Events
Boat People Update - March 28
Open Letter to China's Hu Jintao

IPCNKR Petitions UNHCR - July 28

US Senator to China: Release Aid Workers
Read more here (This is a PDF document)
North Korean Freedom Coalition News

Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have introduced versions of a bill (titled the North Korean Freedom Act) that would grant clear refugee rights to North Koreans fleeing their homeland to seek refuge and freedom. Download PDF versions of these two Senate documents. Read more details and download the documents here.

Repatriation Survivors Speak Out
Press Conference Details
Follow-up to Press Conference
Transcript of Escapee Interview
Names & Info on Witnesses
Wife of Choi Yong-hun Visits Him in Chinese Jail

Urgent Call for Help
2 Letters You Can Mail to
China's Leaders

There is an urgent need for interested parties to mail letters of protest to China's officials regarding that country's mistreatment of legitimate refugees and humanitarian aid workers. International agreements are being openly flouted.
          Four Arrested, Beaten in Public

          China Still Punishing Humanitarians

We Must Not Forget
7 Refugees Arrested
on August 26, 2002

Seven North Korean refugees were taken into custody while attempting to request political asylum at the Chinese Foreign Ministry a year ago. Click here to read more

Additional background information on the North Korean Refugee issue. To download this 71-page PDF document RIGHT click here.

Japanese Lawmaker Forms World Group
of Legislators to Help NK Refugees

IPCNKR Started in April 2003

On April 16, 2003, the inaugural general meeting of IPCNKR (International Parliamentarians' Coalition for the North Korean Refugees and Human Rights) was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in central Seoul. Masaharu Nakagawa, Japanese lawmaker attracted legislators from 5 countries to join in founding the group.
Read the full report here.

In another story, IPCNKR, the new international action group formed by legislators from 5 countries suggests building a refugee camp in a third country to shelter NK defectors.
Read about the group's objectives.


Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Representative: Kato Hiroshi
A-101 Nishi Kata Hyteru
2-2-8 Nishi Kata, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo, Japan 113-0024
Tel / Fax +81-3-3815-8127
Contact Us

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