Category Archives: LFNKR

Four NK Refugees Safely Rescued

Four Successes

This month (September 2017), LFNKR rescued four refugees from North Korea. Two are the human trafficking victims whom we described in our previous blog post, and the other two are young males, both in their twenties. The two young men began their escape in Foeryong, North Korea. After managing to cross the border, and while hiding in a mountain in China, they luckily encountered a kind ethnic Korean-Chinese man who had come to the mountain hunting for mushrooms. The Korean-Chinese man knew someone who had formerly helped North Korea defectors in Longjin. This connection led to their relocation to safe destinations.

And if you were one of the many donors who helped us to help these refugees, please accept our thanks and the gratitude of the four young people who are free now thanks in large part to your generosity. Thank you.

Day Dedicated to Saving North Korean Refugees

September 22 was World “Save North Korean Refugees” Day

LFNKR sent out Letters of Petition to the Chinese embassy and all the consulates in Japan, urging China’s president Xi Jinping to provide to North Korea refugees who escape into China fair treatment according to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a document which China signed and ratified on September 24, 1982.

3 Young Women Trapped by Human Trafficking

Join Our Rescue Mission!

LFNKR has so far helped more than 200 North Korean refugees escape to safe destinations where they’ve been able to start new lives.

Earlier this week, we received urgent requests from three desperate North Korean women in China. They are all in their early thirties, victims of human trafficking.  Two of them had been sold to extremely poor Chinese farmers in Hebei.

Why one young lady escaped from North Korea

On May 12, 2017, Yong-mee Lee was invited to Tokyo University to present a speech to the students.

Yong-mee Lee is one of the North Korean refugees whom LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) has helped to safely reach Japan and resettle here.  We are very happy to see the growing number of resettled North Korean refugees now helping LFNKR. They are actively participating in our activities to raise awareness of the difficulties still faced by the North Korean people.  The following speech was presented by Yong-mee Lee.

You have just saved another life

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

Follow-up of Mr. Choi Myung Bok

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.

Join Our Christmas Campaign to Rescue 6 NK Refugees

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.

flooded-village-dec-2016-2

Flooded village in North Korea

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.

Click here for our donation page:

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. 

Global Festa Japan 2016

former North Korean defectors, who have now resettled in Japan, talk about their own experiences

Two former North Korean defectors, who have now resettled in Japan, talk about their own experiences

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. 

North Korean “Inari-Sushi” and the Party to View Cherry Blossoms

By K.K. (a former North Korean refugee)

NEWS100PhotoBack 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).

She writes:

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. 

From N.K. Refugee to Licensed Nurse in Japan

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:

She says:

Thanks to the support and help that the people around me have extended, I passed the National Nursing Examination!

Former NK Defector Speaks at One World Festival

Refugee Tells Her Story

Koh Jeong Mee talks about tortures she has experienced.

Koh Jeong Mee talks about tortures she has experienced.

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.

Terror in a Solitary Confinement Cell

The MC's height is 165cm (5.5ft). This illustrates the small size of the cell.

The MC’s height is 165cm (5.5ft). This illustrates the small size of the cell.

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.

Jeong Kwang-il explains the "pigeon torture"

Mr. Jeong  explains excruciating postures in the cage

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.

Read about his experiences in Yodok:

Many North Koreans are tortured and sent to the concentration camps without trial, just as Mr. Jeong was.

 

Happy New Year

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.

5-year-old Boy Enters LFNKR Orphanage

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.

One Volunteer’s Story

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:

Update – 3 Ladies Who Defected

 Steady Progress in 3 Careers

Here are three young ladies whom LFNKR has helped resettle in Japan, and updates on their progress as they work toward establishing new careers.

beauticianMs. E has worked a number of different jobs, and eventually she decided to become a beautician.  So, after she gained her Japanese high school diploma via correspondence, she took the entrance exam for a famous beautician’s college in Tokyo, which of course she passed.  She tells us that she is looking forward to learning this new skill. She is confident that by becoming a beautician her expertise will enable her to help those who need encouragement and others who may need their spirits lifted through her skills.

Rescue Requests Growing Again

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.

Mother’s Day – Sad Day for NK Orphans

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 Part 1

Takayuki Noguchi

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).

Obituary

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.

LFNKR Exect Kato Interviewed

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.

Set a Goal and Tackle it for Best Results

Former NK refugee aims at certified nurse

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. 

Former NK Refugee Starts New Business

Former NK refugee starts a new business

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.

A Whole New Look

Website Facelift

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. 

UN Receives NK Human Rights Review

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW

( Visit UN’s Periodic Review Page )

Submission for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
(NORTH KOREA)

Crowd Funding

New — Crowd Funding Initiative
Exciting Donation and Financing Technology


GOAL:
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.

2014 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report Overview
Date: November 29, 2014
 

From 17th Gen. Meeting Oct. 19, 2014

Introduction
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.

Follow LFNKR on Twitter

twitterbird

Follow LFNKR on Twitter


Here Are LFNKR’s Latest Tweets


 


Doing Well in Nursing School

Former NK refugee loves nursing school

Nursing School, First Year Done


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.

What We Look for in an Intern

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.

Baby Sumi Celebrates First Birthday

Baby Sumi's First Birthday

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.

Speech — “Inside North Korea”

LFNKR's Hiroshi Kato

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.

2013 LFNKR Annual Report Overview

From 16th General Meeting. Oct. 20, 2013

Introduction

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.

NK Security Clamps Down on Brokers

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.

Kato Addresses Meiji University

LFNKR's Kato speaks to Meiji University

 

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.

LFNKR Submits Report to UN

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).

Emergency Aid Project to Send 10 Tons of Corn Noodles

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.

Former NK Refugee in Nursing School

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.

UN Inquiries Revealing Human Rights Horrors

Shin Dong-hyuk addresses UN Commission

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. 

Click here for the original article.

Reader Donations Help Rescue 2 Women

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.

Open Letter to Kim Jong-un Urges Explanation

Letter to:
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.

Rescues Stalled for Lack of Funds

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 News Media Interview NK Refugee in Japan

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. 

NGOs Send Open Letter to North Korea’s New Leader Kim Jong-un

NGOs hold joint press conference on NK human rights violations

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.

UN Commission to Investigate NK Human Rights Crimes

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. 

China Sets Bounty on NK Refugees

Flyer announcing bounty on NK refugees

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.

NK Refugee Qualifies for Nursing School

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. 

Rescued NK Refugees Have a New Baby

Baby born to NK refugees in Japan

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.

Japan Takes Stand on NK Human Rights

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.