Category Archives: LFNKR
Your donations do make a difference
Your support has enabled us to save a 27-year-old North Korean refugee. On February 23, LFNKR successfully completed the rescue mission to bring Mr. Y.Y. out of China to a safe place.
It has been your generous support and donations that made it possible for him to even dream of freedom.
Five more remaining people still await their chance for rescue. We are thankful for your concern for these people living at risk. If you would like to donate to help these five to reach safety, please click through to our donation page.
With sincere thanks,
Hiroshi Kato, Director of LFNKR
Choi’s legal status is still pending
On February 13, LFNKR received the following press release from the Human Rights Center “Memorial” in Russia. Mr. Choi Myung Bok has managed to avoid the deportation. However, his case is still pending a final decision.
LFNKR sincerely hopes that Mr. Choi will be granted refugee status as soon as possible or alternatively be allowed safe passage to a third country of refuge.
On Nov. 26, LFNKR received a rescue request from a group of six North Korean refugees, one of whom is a 4-year-old girl. These people are survivors of the heavy flooding caused by North Korea’s torrential rains in late August. Reportedly, more than 100,000 people lost their homes.
One LFNKR member visited the China-North Korea border and took photos of the affected area. The following two photos were taken two days after the flooding.
After their village was completely swept away by the disaster, these six people fled to China, initially searching for food just to survive. Soon afterward they heard about LFNKR and contacted us for help relocating.
For more details, refer to: this CNN article
In this Christmas season, with the spirit of giving and receiving, we gratefully thank you for all the assistance you have sent us in the past. And we invite you to join us in helping these six refugees reach safety.
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.
Global Festa Japan 2016 was held at Odaiba in Tokyo on October 1st and 2nd. This annual event was jointly hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and several other Japanese governmental organizations. The major purpose of the festival, an International Cooperation Day, is to promote awareness of the need for the international cooperation and the importance of joint efforts between the governmental and citizen groups, as well as NGOs. During the two-day event, 269 organizations and groups participated and about 100,000 people visited.
By K.K. (a former North Korean refugee)
Back in April, LFNKR had a cherry blossom viewing party. At this party were members of LFNKR and also some of the former North Korean defectors who have resettled here in Japan. The following is a brief article we received from one of the North Korean participants. It was she who prepared and brought the unique spicy North Korean “inari-sushi” (fried bean-curd stuffed with boiled rice).
I was born in North Korea, and I was able to come to Japan, thanks to Japanese humanitarian aid. At that time I knew absolutely nothing about the cultures or traditions of any other country.
Near the end of March this year, we at LFNKR got some exciting news. Miss K.H., whom we have mentioned here before (see links below), had just passed Japan’s very difficult National Nursing Exam, and she was writing to tell us of her experiences:
Thanks to the support and help that the people around me have extended, I passed the National Nursing Examination!
Refugee Tells Her Story
On Feb. sixth and seventh LFNKR participated in the One World Festival held in Osaka, Japan to help boost the public’s awareness of the many human rights abuses that continue in North Korea.
At the yearly One World Festival, NGO/NPOs, international institutions, local administration and companies involved in international cooperation gather together to tell about their activities, and to hold symposia and panel discussions on such issues as peace, human rights and the environment.
The following is a brief summary of the report prepared by Mr. K.G., a member of LFNKR. It describes the testimony presented by Ms. Koh Jeong Mee, a former NK defector.
LFNKR On Dec. 5, jointly hosted a seminar as one of the events held during the first week of December to help promote public awareness of the North Korean human rights issue. The seminar was titled “Terror of Whistle Blowers in a Solitary Confinement Cell.” To emphasize what it was really like, LFNKR specially created two full-size punishment cells not just for display but also to give participants the experience of being in the cages.
We invited Mr. Jeong Kwang-il, who has experienced being locked up in one of the punishment cells, to talk about the confinement and one of the tortures called “pigeon torture.” In the pigeon torture, a person’s hands are tied behind their back and handcuffed so that they can neither stand nor sit.
Mr. Jeong Kwang-il is Director of No Chains for North Korea and the Director of Human Rights Investigations for North Korea Watch. He was confined in Yodok Concentration Camp, one of North Korea’s most notorious camps.
Many North Koreans are tortured and sent to the concentration camps without trial, just as Mr. Jeong was.
Happy New Year
From Hiroshi Kato, Executive Director,
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Wishing all of you health and prosperity in the New Year
It appears that North Korea has succeeded in establishing a three-generation political dynasty. However, the UN has passed resolutions condemning the North’s human rights abuses, calling them grave, widespread, systematic abuses that amount to crimes against humanity. The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution critical of the DPRK with the support of 119 countries.
Rapidly approaching are the Christmas and New Year holidays – a perfect time for gift-giving. Perhaps you’ve been thinking of donating to a worthy charity. If so, may we suggest a very special group of orphans; abandoned children born to North Korean defectors in China.
The most recent child to come to our orphanage arrived just two months ago. Here is his story.
It was October 4, 2015, a Sunday, when, without announcement or appointment a fiftyish-looking man just showed up at our orphanage in China. With him was a young boy.
Ever wonder who does the behind-the-scenes work in an NGO like ours?
A while back Hiroshi Kato, who heads this organization, posted a call for volunteers – someone to help LFNKR with translation work. Since this NGO is made up almost exclusively of volunteers, and there’s always more to do than time available, we are always delighted to hear from those wanting to help.
One young lady in the US, a “Mrs M,” contacted us offering her assistance. Only thing was, she wasn’t sure her skills were good enough. We sent her a couple of short articles to try, and as it turns out, her skills were excellent. She’s been translating for us ever since.
And then the other day we wondered, would readers be interested in hearing how one volunteer started?
We thought that you, our readers, might indeed be interested, so here it is – Mrs M’s story:
Steady Progress in 3 Careers
Fear Spreading Among High Officials
Chang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle of Kim Jong-Un and former number two in North Korea’s power structure, was arrested and executed in December 2013. Since then, power struggles and purges have grown in the country. According to reports filtering out, the ongoing investigations, purges and executions are often directed toward officials responsible for the earning of foreign currencies. So widespread have these practices become that they are now cutting a swath through mid-level management. Increasing numbers of officials are falling before this reign of terror. The instability of the regime has even had a dampening effect on the economic activities of the general populace.
NK mothers whom China has repatriated cannot be thanked by their children this Mother’s Day.
Because of Chinese internal politics, any North Koreans including mothers, if caught and arrested, are forcibly shipped back to North Korea, leaving their children behind in China. LFNKR looks after as many of these children as we can. Unfortunately, our reach is limited, leaving many more kids with no one to care. In this video, Kato Hiroshi, LFNKR’s executive director, explains more about the situation.
Fleeing North Korea: Southeast Asia
Part 1: The Rescue Mission Begins
By Takayuki Noguchi
(This is the first article in the series “Fleeing North Korea: Southeast Asia” by LFNKR’s Takayuki Noguchi)
On December 10, 2003, I was convicted by the Chinese authorities of traveling with North Korean defectors and sentenced to eight months in prison. The two defectors I was with were also detained and then forcibly repatriated to North Korea. I heard that one of them was tortured and died, and the other was sent to a prison camp for six months. After I was released, I decided to record as much as possible about what had happened. The result was “Fleeing North Korea” (Japanese; published 2010).
Rest in peace, Kenkichi Nakadaira
It is with great sadness that Life Funds for North Korean Refugees announces the passing of its founding Executive Director, Kenkichi Nakadaira at the age of 89 from heart failure.
We are deeply grateful for the selfless devotion he showed, becoming the bedrock of the fledgling organization that LFNKR then was. LFNKR, a recognized NPO, is the organization it is today because of the foundation that Nakadaira-sensei established. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Nakadaira-sensei for everything he has done and we express our deepest condolences to his family.
Emil Truszkowski, a Polish journalist, who is the first subscriber to the LFNKR YouTube site, visited LFNKR office in Tokyo to interview Hiroshi Kato, the executive director. He has posted the interview at his channel “Welcome to North Korea.” Truszkowski expressed his wish to help Polish people become aware of the North Korea human rights issue.
Here is an update from Miss K. H., the young North Korean defector who is now studying to become a nurse in Tokyo. Like Sumi’s mother (in the previous post), this young lady also reported on her current activities at the recent LFNKR annual meeting.
It will soon be 2 years since I entered the nursing school in April 2013. Time is flying by as I scramble to keep up with the heavy curriculum schedule, which includes the weekly exams, the events and all the practical training.
LFNKR has helped many North Korean refugees to escape and resettle in Japan. Here is one of those success stories. This young lady attended LFNKR’s recent annual meeting, where she caught us up on her current activities. This report is from the mother of Baby Sumi, now age two (check the links below for more details). Here is a summary of her presentation.
See anything different? Silly question, right? You’re probably already noticing the new look. Here at NorthKoreanRefugees.com we’re in the process of changing our site’s appearance. Starting today, we’re sporting an entirely new, more streamlined style.
The old look was a very new look back in 2002, when we first launched this site. But time marches on – especially on the Internet – and the very newest thing can be superseded very quickly by technology that works better, faster and more transparently.
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Submission for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Exciting Donation and Financing Technology
Help One More North Korean Refugee Reach Safety
Everybody’s familiar with how fast Internet technology advances. Way, way back in 2003, when we instituted a new way for you to donate (via PayPal), it was still a fairly new idea. But time rolls quickly onward.
And now, there’s a new option we think you might appreciate. It’s called “Crowd Funding” and it’s an easy way to make donations to help support the rescue of North Korean refugees. Find out more about crowd funding here.
Date: November 29, 2014
From 17th Gen. Meeting Oct. 19, 2014
As a member of the ICNK, LFNKR has been actively working with other international NGO members to help the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate North Korean human rights violations. Primary activities include providing investigation materials, as well as related North Korean and Chinese written laws and regulations, testimonies by previous detainees at the notorious death camps and their relatives, public hearings of North Korean defectors and nonofficial interviews with North Korean defectors.
Here Are LFNKR’s Latest Tweets
Update from former NK refugee
Miss K. H., one of the North Korean defectors we helped rescue four years ago, just sent us an update on her progress in nursing school. As you may recall from ourearlier article last year, she is a former North Korean defector who has resettled in Japan.
If You’ve Ever Thought of Internship…
Throughout the year, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees receives inquiries from students interested in doing an internship with us. We’re excited by all the enthusiasm for North Korean human rights issues that this represents, and we wish that we could take on some of these impressive candidates.
Report from Mother
Sumi, the baby born to our North Korean refugee parents in December of 2012, is growing and thriving wonderfully. Recently, a photo and email arrived at our LFNKR offices reporting on Sumi’s first birthday celebration.
Address to International Media Forum
Mr. Hiroshi Kato, executive director of LFNKR, was invited to the International Media Forum event titled “Inside North Korea” held on April 1 at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. The Forum had 41 participants, including NGO groups, Japanese and foreign media and diplomats. Mr. Kato’s gave an outline of this group’s activities along with some specific figures.
From 16th General Meeting. Oct. 20, 2013
LFNKR, in FY2012 (Sept. 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013), has witnessed improved awareness in the international community with respect to the North Korean human rights issue. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), was established in Sept. 2011. This organization, which includes 43 international NGOs in 15 countries, is engaged in lobbying activities. The ICNK group in Japan, of which LFNKR is also a member, has repeatedly visited Japanese Diet lawmakers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) as well as a number of foreign embassies in Tokyo.
Storms of Arrests, Executions Seen
On Nov. 25, one of our local staff members (K-0078) in North Korea sent us a report on the most recent security measures being enacted at the border of Hyesan, Ryanggang-do. In October, North Korea started dispatching special inspection forces from the state security department and the people’s army political department to tighten their border security.
Seeking Solutions to the Problem
Mr. Hiroshi Kato, the secretary-general of LFNKR, and an expert on North Korean human rights issues, is often invited by leading Japanese universities to speak on this topic. Below is an outline of a recent lecture. It was presented at Meiji University on the 7th of November 2013. These lectures often inspire young people to join in our human rights activities.
China’s abuses also highlighted
Last week (October 22) saw China’s second review at the Human Rights Council. Under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the human rights record of each country is reviewed by member states and NGOs. Life Funds for North Korean Refugees was one of only two NGOs to raise China’s human rights abuses vis-a-vis North Korean refugees (the other being Human Rights Without Frontiers).
Heaviest Rains in 40 Years Catastrophically Damage Grain Crops in North Korea
LFNKR local staff reports – the heaviest rains in 40 years have caused serious damage to grain producing areas in North Korea, including Hwanghae-do and Pyong-an Namdo. These two areas already suffered severe damage during the two previous years, and now they have been hit again. This, before they had a chance to recover from the devastation of last year and the year before.
Studying Hard Every Day:
KH, who enrolled in nursing school in April, is about to start her summer vacation. It has been less than 5 years since KH came to Japan from North Korea. First she enrolled in, then graduated from, evening middle school. Next, she took enough units at the municipal high school to earn her high school graduation certificate in less than two years. This spring, she applied to take the entrance examination for a well-known nursing school. Competing against native Japanese high school students under the exact same conditions, she passed an exam for which only about 1 in 7 gains admission.
Reuters Reports on Revelations
We at LFNKR are glad to report that real results are beginning to flow from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into North Korea human rights violations and whether those violations amount to crimes against humanity. We reported, back in May, that the Commission had been convened and was about to start its investigations.
UPDATE – July 11th:
The two North Korean women who were waiting for us to escort them to safety were successfully conducted to a safe zone and, once all official processing is completed, will be resettled in South Korea.
2nd UPDATE – August 30th:
The two North Korean women have now safely reached South Korea and are settling in to their new life of freedom.
Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea,
Chairman of the National Defense Commission
Letter Dated: May 7, 2013
We, the undersigned human rights NGOs of Japan, without political, religious, or economic motives, met in Tokyo on May 7th to review the decades long, systematic, widespread, and grave human rights violations in North Korea, which are documented in the publications listed below, as well as multiple other sources of information.
More NK Refugees Awaiting Rescue – Help Us Get Them to Safety
LFNKR has received desperate cries for help from NK defectors. A severely physically handicapped father, 59, and his two sons (ages 27 and 25) have risked their lives to escape from North Korea. They are now in Yanji, waiting for us to help them make it the rest of the way to South Korea.
Italian Mediaset TGCOM24 Seeks Answers
Last month, a major Italian news outlet, Mediaset TGCOM24, contacted LFNKR, requesting an interview with one NK defector (37 years old) who is now resettled in Japan. LFNKR arranged the interview with the defector, whom LFNKR had helped to safely reach and resettle in Tokyo.
Groups Present a United Front
LFNKR hosted on May 7, 2013 a press conference in the Diet Members’ Building in Tokyo, which was attended by representatives from several other NGOs also engaged in the North Korea human rights issue. The event was covered by journalists from NHK, Kyodo News, Mainichi Newspapers, One Korea Daily News, Mindan (Korean Residents Union in Japan) Newspaper, and The Wall Street Journal.
The efforts of LFNKR, as a member of the ICNK (International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea), have helped lead to establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI), which is now ready to begin its investigation. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution establishing on March 21, 2013 a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate the grievous human rights violations in North Korea and to determine whether those violations amount to crimes against humanity.
Will Pay up to 2,000 Yuan per 5 Captured
NKFC (North Korea Freedom Coalition) members, including LFNKR, have recently received information about the on-going crackdown by Chinese authorities. See a PDF copy of the Chinese language document, along with English and Korean translations.Chinese authorities recently released a police order along the NK-China border which sets specific prices for any criminal escapees (North Korean refugees) trying to get away from the starvation and madness so rampant in their own country.
First Language Skills, Now Nursing
This 29-year-old North Korean young lady only reached Japan four years ago. She immediately began attending night classes at a local junior high, and then moved on to high school, while also working part-time jobs to support herself.
Message from Sumi’s mother
Twelve months after my husband and I escaped from North Korea, we finally reached Japan. That was two years ago.
I became pregnant soon after we settled in Japan, and our daughter was born on Dec. 13, 2012. Before she was born, the LFNKR people, who have kindly been encouraging us since we left our own country, thought about what name we should give our baby. They came up with the name, Sumi, which of course means excellent and beautiful.
ICNK lauds Japan’s firm stance
In a public statement yesterday, ICNK (The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea), a group of more than 40 leading human rights organizations and activists, welcomed Japan’s strong position in favor of establishing a new United Nations commission of inquiry on serious human rights violations committed by the North Korean Government at home and abroad.
Boy & Girl Suffering from Tuberculosis
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) is currently caring for a number of North Korean orphans living in the caves of Chanbai Mountain in China’s Jilin Province. Recently LFNKR received a report from our local staff that two of these North Korean orphans are suffering from Tuberculosis.
Cherry-Blossom Party with NK Defectors
On April 8, under a flawless blue sky, LFNKR members gathered at Shinjuku Park, one of the famous cherry-blossom viewing spots in Tokyo, to enjoy an “Ohanami” party under hundreds of cherry trees, all in full bloom. The Ohanami is a Japanese tradition for enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms. Joining the party were many North Korean defectors whom LFNKR has helped and supported in their resettlement in Japan.
Since its founding in 1998, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), a Japanese citizen’s group, has devoted itself to supplying food, clothing, and medical goods directly to starving North Korean people.
After nearly 14 years of continuing efforts, we still see no improvement in the food shortage, nor a reduction in human rights violations in North Korea. The outflow of people desperate enough to flee their fatherland for other countries has not abated.