Category Archives: Defectors

Rumors – China May Recognize Some NK Refugees

Expectations High, but Will Plan Be Implemented?

Rumors filtering out of China recently suggest that the Chinese government may begin granting refugee status to some North Korean defectors. The Chinese government has so far stuck to its official position that there are no North Korean refugees in China, that North Korean defectors have entered China illegally, and that their stay in China is illegal.

Seminar on Refugees & Human Rights to Be Held in Tokyo

Agenda for Tokyo Seminar

13:00 Registration
“North Korean Children Beyond the Border” a documentary film (20minutes) to be played continuously as people enter…
13:30 Welcoming Remarks
Hiroshi Kato, Secretariat
Director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR)
14:00 State of Human Rights in Asia
Kanae Doi
Tokyo Director of Human Rights Watch
14:20 Human Trafficking Forum
Stories from the victims
Opening remarks – Introduction
Testimony from victims
Participants Q & A
15:20 Presentation
Trafficked North Korean women and their Children in China
Kate Nielsen
Director of International Relations, LFNKR
15:40 Presentation
The invisible trafficking to China from Kachin State in Myanmar
Shirley Seng
Director of Kachin Women’s Association in Thailand
16:00 Presentation
Trafficking of North Koreans in China
Lin Fei
Representative of Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition Japan
16:20 Presentation
Reception condition of women and children asylum seekers in Japan
Eri Ishikawa
Secretary general of Japan Association for Refugees
16:40 Presentation
Resettlement of North Korean Women and children in Japan
Kotaro Miura
Representative of Society to Help Returnees to North Korea
17:00 Panel Discussion
Refugees and Human Rights in Asia
17:40 Closing Remarks

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.

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.

Activist Tim Peters Receives Human Rights Award

Activist Tim Peters

From: Norwegian Mission to the East

The prestigious Stephen’s Prize this year will go to a Christian activist who assists North Korean refugees in China. Mr. Peters will receive the prize from the Norwegian NGO “Norwegian Mission to the East” for his pioneering and courageous work for these refugees, helping them find safe refuge and freedom. Mr. Peters will come to Oslo in early November of this year to receive the prize.

Movie ‘Crossing’ Wins High Praise

"Crossing" - the Movie

It also Raises Valid Questions

Based on a true story, the Korean movie “Crossing” took four years to complete. Until the movie was publicly announced in March this year, the entire project was kept under tight security, including all filming done in South Korea, China, and Mongolia. “Crossing” focuses on the reality of life in North Korea and the flood of defectors leaving the country. The secrecy was necessary because there were fears that pro-North Korean elements in South Korea might sabotage the project.

NK Defector Escapes China after 14 Years

Mother Was Japanese

The following is the true story of a daughter born in North Korea to an ethnic Korean father from Japan and a Japanese mother. Her parents had married in Japan, then moved to North Korea where the daughter was born. Neither the Japanese mother nor her daughter ever reached Japan. Would things have been different if they were Labor Party members?

Follow-up Visit with Orphans Held Last Year in Laos

The Choi children, one year later, with Kato Hiroshi and Kim Sang-hun, a South Korean humanitarian aid worker.

World Outcry Freed Them from Custody in Laos

Last year 3 North Korean orphans fleeing China were being held in a jail in Vientiane, Laos. When Kato Hiroshi visited them last year, the boy was sick from the stress of being in jail. At that time, Kato encouraged the three, a boy and two girls, telling them “Don’t worry, I promise to get you out of here soon.”

LFNKR’s Kato Speaks Out on Government Policies

On April 2, 2008 in Korea…

Kato Hiroshi, Executive Director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), was invited by Korea Christian University to speak at its international conference. His speech was entitled “International Refugee Policy and Intervention & Training Plans for Specialized Social Workers.” The following is the script of the speech he presented at the conference on April 2, 2008.

Join the North Korean Freedom Week Events

Update from Suzanne Scholte
of North Korea Freedom Coalition

Dear Friends:

I am pleased to send another update on the events confirmed for North Korea Freedom Week April 26-May 3, 2008. 

Please note that since my last update we have added several additional events: another panel session, a special demonstration by Youth for Truth and as a testament to the importance of North Korea Freedom Week, the producer of the soon-to-be-released movie Crossing, Patrick Cheh, is coming to show a special screening of this movie that is scheduled for threatrical release in South Korea in June.  

China Raises Bounty on NK Refugees 1600%

A year’s Pay for One NK Defector

Stories of a shocking new development are just beginning to leak out of China. The government there has just raised the stakes in the human rights issue now coming to a boil. While the world’s attention is focused on the uproar in Tibet, other important developments are quietly taking place in the shadows.

Sample Letter of Protest

To the President of China

Dear President Hu Jintao,

The international community continues to watch in horror as the Chinese government tracks down and deports North Korean refugees in advance of the upcoming Beijing Olympics. This practice is a stain on the face of China. We urge you to immediately cease arresting and repatriating North Korean refugees.

Human Trafficking Victim – Choi Chong-mi

Name:            Choi Chong-mi
(Female, Name changed for safety)
Birth date:    1969
Hometown:   Hamgyong Bukto

It is an unending nightmare. I don’t know how to begin telling everything that has happened to me. It will probably sound like fiction to you. When I was two years old, following the death of my father, I was taken in by four aunts and an uncle. My cousins were like my parents, sisters and brother.

Human Trafficking Victim – Lee Sun Ja

Name:                 Lee Sun Ja
(Female, Name changed for safety)
Date of Birth:  1981
Hometown:      Hamgyong Bukto, North Korea

When I was three years old, my parents suddenly disappeared. Nobody knows if they died or if they were sent into a concentration camp for political prisoners. My step-parents treated me worse than a beast. I was hardly fed daily, so I grew up as a beggar. Since I remained a Kot-jebi (street child) until I escaped into China, I never had a chance to go to a school. In North Korea, while I was living the Kot-jebi life, I begged but I also broke into houses to steal from time to time.

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.

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.

US Deputy Special Envoy Addresses Bangkok Conference

Christian Whiton addresses the Bangkok International Conference on the North Korean Human Rights Situation.

Christian Whiton Addresses
The Conference on North Korean Human Rights

It’s an honor to be here at the Bangkok International Conference on the North Korean Human Rights Situation. I would like to thank all of those who have made this conference possible. We are here to discuss and draw attention to an issue of great international and moral importance—the plight of the North Korean people, and steps that those of us in the free world can take to aid them, and in so doing, further the cause of peace and security in North East Asia. 

Human Rights Activist Kim Sang Hun

Sang Hun Kim, International Human Rights Volunteer

Mr. Kim’s Speech:

Chairperson, Distinguished Members of the International Community of Human Rights NGOs and Activists, Respected Members of News Media, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to thank you for your interest in the human rights disaster that North Korea has created, and for the innocent victims it has created. 

Appeal to National Human Rights Commission of Thailand

Presented on Behalf of North Korean Refugees Detained in Thailand

INTRODUCTION

We are a group of human rights organizations and activists based in Thailand, Japan, Korea and other countries. We have just attended the International Conference in Thailand, September 17-21, 2007, on the North Korean Human Rights Situation. The Conference has reviewed the situation of North Koreans in Thailand along with addressing other related issues.

I Was a Political Prisoner at Birth in North Korea

Shin Dong-hyuk describes his youth in a prison camp

My Family Background

My North Korean name is Shin In-kun (South Korean name: Shin Dong-hyuk). I was born on 19 November 1982. I was a political prisoner at birth in North Korea.

According to what I know from my father, Shin Kyong-sop, he was born in 1946 in the village of Yongjung-ni in Mundok District, South Pyongan Province, near Pyongyang, North Korea. He was the 11th of 12 brothers. It was in 1965, when he was only 19 years old, that great tragedy struck his family. 

US Lawmakers Call for Boycott of Beijing Olympics

US Lawmakers Introduce Legislation

Legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46th) and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Joseph Pitts, Thaddeus McCotter, John Doolittle, Dan Burton, Frank Wolf, and Chris Smith, calling for the U.S. government to take steps to boycott the Beijing Olympics unless the Chinese regime stops its human rights abuses against its own citizens and other nations. 

LFNKR’s Kato Speaks at 4th General Meeting of International Lawmakers

Kato Hiroshi urges "Protect North Korean Refugee Human Rights"

“Protect North Korean Refugee Human Rights”

This organization’s Secretary General, Kato Hiroshi,addressed the 4th annual meeting of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees’ Human Rights (IPCNKR). Representatives totalled 111 and came from 36 different countries at this year’s conference, which was held in Japan. 

Japan Needs Refugee Settlement Program ASAP

Special Report by Kato Hiroshi

Shock waves rocked Japan recently when four North Korean defectors sailed into Funaura port in Aomori Prefecture (northeastern Japan) in a seven-meter wooden boat whose top speed was just 10 knots . The arrival of the four family members on Japanese shores from Chongjin, 850 km away, after ten days at sea, was nothing short of miraculous. 

International Conference on North Korean Human Rights

September 17-21, 2007
2-Day Conference in Thailand
Followed by 3-Day Tour

OVERVIEW

Sept. 17-18, 2007 – First day closed to the public
Sept. 19-21, 2007

Field trip to border area (Thailand-Laos-Myanmar) where North Korean defectors often cross into Thailand.
Visit with Thai abductee.

Report from a Refugee Who Made It Back

No One Said Fitting into Japanese Society Would Be Easy

Mr. Park went to North Korea with his family when he was four years old. The family went to Onson County in North Hamgyong Province, where they were assigned to a coal mining operation. Then, in 1999, he fled to China to escape the food shortages and starvation that had plagued the country throughout the 1990s. Park found, however, that life in China was very hard due to his illegal status. One employer made off with Park’s wages, leaving him without a single yuan and in despair. 

Letter of Appeal to Prime Minister of Thailand

Protest of Extreme Overcrowded Conditions
Letter from LFNKR to the Prime Minister of Thailand.


26 April, 2007

Dear General Surayud Chulanont:

We, at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees(LFNKR), wish to convey our profoundest gratitude and respect to the people and Government of Thailand for humanitarian assistance extended to the North Korean defectors in Thailand in past years.

Abandoned Children in China

Many Problems Confront Children of North Korean Mothers and Chinese Fathers

The international community has grown uncomfortably aware, over the past decade, of the many problems confronting North Korean defectors. The most urgent of these include capture by Chinese police and forced repatriation, as well as the need to find a way to a safe third country such as South Korea for resettlement.

International Fact-finding Mission to Thailand

Memorial shot together with Maisai Immigration vice director and members of Fact Finding Mission in front of Maisai Immigration Police Building.

Memorial shot together with Maisai Immigration vice director and members of Fact Finding Mission in front of Maisai Immigration Police Building.

From February 25 to March 1 of this year, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees was part of an international fact-finding mission to Thailand, the purpose of which was to ascertain the current situation of North Korean refugees in Thailand. To this end, we met with the Bangkok office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the immigration police at Maesai (near the Laos/Thai/Myanmar border), and Thai human rights lawyers, as well as North Korean defectors and some of the activists assisting them in Thailand.

Open Letter to Ban Ki-moon

Faxed to ROK Permanent Mission at United Nations


October 19, 2006

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary General-Designate and
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Republic of Korea
c/o The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations
335 East 45th Street
New York, New York 10017

Dear Foreign Minister Ban:

We, the undersigned, are gravely concerned for the human rights of the North Korean people, and we have also been following the news of your selection to be the next United Nations Secretary General with great interest. Allegations that the North Korean government has engaged in large-scale crimes against humanity will be among the U.N.’s great moral challenges in the coming years, and the institution’s moral authority will depend on how it responds to those challenges.

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.

Interview with NK Border Shelter Staff Members

Human Trafficking and Starvation

Recently an LFNKR staff member visited some of the shelters in China being run clandestinely by this NGO. The following interview with a few local staffers working at one of the shelters brings us information about the recent food situation in North Korea and the victims of human trafficking.

In the interview, “LFNKR” indicates one of our people dispatched from Japan who interviewed “Local staffers,” who are the people actually caring for North Korean refugees and orphans living in our shelters in China.

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.

Refugee Rescue Activities – 2005

Report Submitted by By Kato Hiroshi, Secretary-General, LFNKR

Here is the script of the speech I presented at the second International Conference on NK Human Rights “The Seoul Summit, Promoting Human Rights in North Korea,” held on Dec. 8-10, 2005 at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul, Korea.

Film “Seoul Train” Screened

Film maker Jim Butterworth speaks about North Korean refugees

Jim Butterworth’s Documentary of Conscience

Thank you very much. First, I would like to thank the IPCNKR for this opportunity to show “Seoul Train” here today, but especially for your outstanding efforts to improve the human rights of North Koreans. It is indeed an honor to be here before such an esteemed audience and alongside other speakers that are truly heroes in this cause.

Protests Held at Chinese Embassy & Consulate in Japan

Journalists Swell the Crowd in Tokyo Demonstration

Actual participants numbered perhaps 30 or so, but with the journalists buzzing around our group, the crowd probably looked larger to the double-handful of guards blocking the gate to the Chinese embassy in Tokyo. We were careful to maintain order and obey the laws, but it appeared the embassy staff didn’t want to take chances. The guards remained serious and watchful throughout the protest. 

NK Refugee Park Yong-chol Repatriated

NK Defectors Still Being Denied Right to Live

We were shocked to learn a few months ago that Choi Yong (male), a Japan-born North Korean, was executed after being repatriated. He was one of the two Japan-born North Koreans whom Takayuki Noguchi (of our organization) tried to help escape from China in December last year.

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.

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. 

Choi Yong Hun Not Receiving His Mail in Prison

First Some Good News: 

The South Korean aid worker, Kim Hee-tae, was found “not guilty” last month and released after being detained for nearly two years.

He was arrested while leading a group of North Korean defectors to Beijing to submit an official request for refugee status.

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 and 19 July 2004. The two-day Conference, organized by three Japanese NGOs (The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea, RENK, and Life Funds for North Korean Refugees), attracted approximately 100 participants from 9 NGOs and 6 countries.

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.

NK Refugee Killed by Chinese Border Guard

Chinese border guard on horseback fired on unarmed NK refugees

Reports have reached our organization that a 20-year-old North Korean defector was shot and killed on 2 April when a group of 24 defectors were stopped while attempting to cross the border from China into Mongolia.

Six members of the group, all men, succeeded in reaching Mongolia. The 17 defectors arrested include a 2-year-old child and a woman six months pregnant. The defectors have begun a hunger strike, insisting on relocation to a third country.

China Still Holding Noguchi & other Aid Workers

More European officials questioning North Korea

Earlier this month, a BBC documentary revealed strong evidence that North Korea is running chemical and biological experiments on political prisoners and their entire families.

Mr. Kato Hiroshi, secretary-general of our organization, together with Mr. Sang Hun Kim, Korean human rights activist, flew to Europe to meet with UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, as well as NGO officials and parliamentary members in a number of countries. The purpose of the trip was to explore greater European involvement in and support for an end to Chinese maltreatment and repatriation of North Korean refugees.

UK Press Conference on North Korean Issue

To be held In Parliament Wednesday, 11 February

Christian Solidarity Worldwide has scheduled a press conference in UK to be held at 10:00AM on Wednesday Feb. 11.

In addition, to foster greater support among EU influence centers to encourage the immediate release of the Korean and Japanese aid workers still detained in China, Mr. Hiroshi Kato, General Secretary of Life Funds For North Korean Refugees, andMr. Kim Sang Hun, a Korean humanitarian aid worker, are visiting influential political and NGO leaders in EU.

Below is the news release from Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Mother visits Noguchi in Chinese Jail

Takayuki Noguchi

Takayuki Noguchi

Takayuki Noguchi before prison

Noguchi before priso

Ever since Takayuki Noguchi was arrested illegally by China in early December 2003, fears have mounted that he could be tried and sentenced to prison time, unlike previous aid workers who had been caught helping North Korean refugees, interrogated then released.

However, thanks to the intervention of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Noguchi’s mother and one of his aunts were allowed to visit him briefly in Nanning.

Protest Letter You Can Mail to Chinese Authorities

January 15, 2004

For your reference, below is a sample protest letter that you can refer to when writing your own letter to Chinese authorities .

We urge you to adapt the contents into your own words and send your letter to the names listed at the bottom of this page.