Category Archives: North Korea

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:

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!

Still more proof of outrageous crimes against humanity

North Korea"s latest missile launchFollowing January’s fourth nuclear test, North Korea launched yet another missile on Feb. 7 despite  strong and repeated criticism by the international community.

According to South Korean government estimates, the money spent by the North Korean government on the development of nuclear missiles totals somewhere between 2.8 and 3.2 billion US dollars.  This much money would buy 9,330,000 to 10,660,000 tons of corn, enough to feed every person in North Korea for 31 to 36 months.

Meanwhile, North Korea still depends on food aid from other countries, including Russia and China.

These facts demonstrate the magnitude of the North Korean government’s crimes against humanity.  The government of that country should, by rights, be standing trial before the International Criminal Court.

URGENT APPEAL

On the Human Rights Situation in North Korea

February 6, 2016

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January of this year despite the suffering of its people. Although North Korea claims that it was a hydrogen bomb, questions remain due to the nature of the seismic activity associated with the blast.

The North Korean government announced that the hydrogen bomb test “firmly protects the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the nation…and reliably safeguards the peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional security” and even now is going ahead with missile launches.

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

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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.

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:

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.

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.

LFNKR to participate in NK human rights event

LFNKR board member will join Japan’s NK human rights symposium in NY

On May 5th, 2015, the government of Japan will host the international symposium on human rights violations by North Korea, including their record of abductions.  LFNKR is dispatching a permanent board member to participate in the special event.

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)

2 Executed, 7 to Prison Camp

9 N.K. Defectors Repatriated
7 Sent to Labor Camp, 2 Executed


An Example of NK’s “Humanitarian” Treatment of Defectors

In June of 2013, we reported on 9 orphans who made it all the way out of North Korea, across China, and into Laos before they were arrested and repatriated to the brutal regime they were trying to escape. (See “World Community Outraged by Orphans Returned to NK“)

Now, news is starting to filter out about what happened to them. The Dong A Ilbo website in South Korea reports that of the nine young escapees, two were executed, and the other seven sent to the infamous Prison Camp 14.

Whitewash Goes to Prison

2014-10-yodok-map

North Korea Whitewashing
Infamous Prison Camps

Prison Camp Getting a Face Lift

It appears that North Korea may be instituting a new prison reform – in its own strange way.

Reports filtering out of North Korea suggest that political prisoners are secretly being smuggled out of the notorious Yodok prison camp in North Hamgyeong Province, and transferred to other camps under cover of darkness, so that their movements cannot be tracked by satellite cameras.

Open Letter to China’s President

Open Letter to the President of China
June 29, 2014


From Keigoh Tabira, 2nd-Generation “Nagasaki Hibakusha” (Atomic-bomb victim in Nagasaki, Japan)


A personal appeal from one private citizen seeking peace for a just world.

1. Stop ignoring brutal behavior that directly damages China’s own national interests

Trains Allow Freedom of Speech in NK

Trains a free speech outlet in NK

By Local LFNKR Staff Member

I know that people around the world believe that there is no freedom of speech in North Korea. This is not wrong. However, we do have one – and only one – exceptional place where we can enjoy freedom of speech. This is in our trains. We have a strict status-oriented society, which means rigid discriminations of rank. So our trains have special compartments for top officials.

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.

Camp 14 – Born in NK Political Prison

Documentary on Camp 14 Filmed

Recruiting Volunteers To Expand Film Screenings

A German director has made a documentary film depicting the harrowing life of a young man who was born and raised in a North Korean political prison camp, and is currently living in South Korea after defecting from North Korea.

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.

Watch Streaming Videos of UN Inquiry on NK

Michael Kirby of UN's Commission of Inquiry

UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea held hearings in Seoul Korea from August 20th through 24th, then reconvened in Tokyo to hear from further witnesses related to Japanese citizens impacted by North Korea’s actions. Michael Kirby chaired the Commission. Streaming video lets you hear all testimony.

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.

LFNKR’s Kato Addresses UN Commission

2013-09-COI-public-hearing-2

On August 29 and 30, an official Commission of Inquiry (COI) public hearing was held at the UN University in Tokyo. The following speech was presented by Mr. Hiroshi Kato, the executive director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR).

Then, in parallel with the official hearing, three members of the UN Commission of Inquiry quietly visited the LFNKR office to hold a private, closed-door interview. Click here for an outline of the public hearing.

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.

16-Year-Old Pens Article on NK Death Camps

North Korea: What it says about you and me
by H.C.

When I was twelve, simply another angst-stricken, preteen lost soul, I discovered the concentration camps of North Korea and the inhumanity of the regime and have carried the grievous burden of having this knowledge and desperately wanting to help but having no way of knowing how or even where to start. Perhaps the most painful lesson of all to learn was that few listen and few care. The first time a child’s pleas for something unselfish are disregarded is the instant in which their innocence is torn away and they become aware of what our world has come to.

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.

LFNKR Statement on the 9 Repatriated Orphans

These 9 Orphans Are Only the Latest Outrage

Since 1998, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), a Japanese NGO based in Tokyo, has been engaged in the rescue of North Korean refugees suffering from tragic conditions in China and some Southeast Asian countries.

Pastor Joo Tells His Story

Demonstrators protest Lao's repatriation of 9 orphans

Reported by Dong-A Ilbo (May 31, 2013):

News outlet Dong-A Ilbo interviewed the pastor who guided the nine North Korean defector orphans during their attempted escape from China to Laos.

We wanted to leave the Lao immigration center because something felt wrong, but the South Korean embassy told us “Stay”

9 Repatriated NK Orphans Face Life or Death

9 orphans sent back to NK

Sent Back by Lao Officials

Back in December 2011, a total of 15 defector youths, all of whom had once been Kot-jebi (homeless street kids), got together for a Christmas party in a hidden shelter in Dandong, China. Most look happy in the photo, but just a year and a half later, their fates have split between heaven and hell.

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. 

CNN Features NK Prison Camp Escapee

Shin Dong-hyuk

Escapee Shin Don-hyuk talks about prison

CNN, in a taped interview, talked with escaped North Korean work camp prisoner, Shin Dong-hyuk. Shin’s life began in near-hopeless circumstances in a NK prison camp. His parents, already interned there, were allowed a “reward marriage” for obedient behavior, but that didn’t last. Shin tells how, at age 14, he witnessed his mother and brother being executed. View part of the interview here.

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. 

YouTube Video – Death Camp Book Scenes

Warning: Extremely Graphic Scenes of Violence

YouTube footage showing scenes from the book about Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So (NK Death Camp) can be viewed at:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=vasmLxi_2Ew The eight-and-a-half minute, un-narrated video shows scenes of such brutality that only those with strong stomachs should watch what is being done to North Koreans every day.

Book on NK Death Camp Published in Japanese

'Death Camp' Book Published

Many Stories of Wanton Cruelty

Last month, LFNKR published the Japanese-language version of the book ‘Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So’ for release in Japan. This book contains facts, information and stories from interviews with 8,934 North Korean defectors, including 81 who had been detained at Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So, more commonly known as the “Death Camp”.  Many of the stories include horrifying colored sketches drawn by a few of the former detainees at the Death Camp. 

LFNKR in Joint Protest of NK Nuclear Blast

LFNKR, Other NGOs Protest NK's Feb 12 Nuclear Test

Joint Protest Held in Tokyo

North Korea conducted yet another nuclear test blast on Feb. 12. The North Korean regime is obviously escalating its clear threat to international peace and security. In response, on Feb. 13, LFNKR joined other Japanese NGOs that have an interest in North Korean human rights issues in public protests against the nuclear test. The protest was held in front of the Tokyo Headquarters of The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. The General Association functions as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan.

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.

US Family ‘Adopts’ Prison Camp Escapee

Shin Dong-hyuk

She Says this Website Started it All

Yesterday we received a warm and inspiring email from a lady, Mrs. Linda Dye, in the US, who read a story on this website back in 2007 and did something unusual. She and her husband decided they wanted to do more than just read about North Korean Refugees. They were so inspired, they made up their minds to get personally involved and make a difference.

Book Review – Escape from Camp 14

Book - Escape from Camp 14

Author, Blaine Harden (Viking Press)
Review by David Calleja

Escape From Camp 14 begins with a statement by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the official mouthpiece of North Korea’s regime. It reads, ‘There is no “human rights issue” in this country, as everyone leads the most dignified and happy life’. According to the government then, Shin Dong-hyuk’s astounding memoirs of survival in the country’s most notorious political prison read as little more than a fairytale.

North Korea’s Latest Launch Condemned

North Korean launches Unha rocket

Squandering National Resources

This organization, (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) strongly protests the missile-launching test that North Korea carried out on Dec. 12, 2012. According to reports, this launch was yet another test of banned ballistic missile technology.

UN Resolution Rips NK

Even Ally China Disapproves

An important human rights committee at the United Nations passed a resolution that condemned the human rights record of North Korea. Also receiving bad marks were Iran and Syria. This year’s vote on North Korea was passed by consensus, and for the first time ever, China, North Korea’s long-time ally, voted in favor.

Satellite Photos of NK Prison Camp

NK Camp 22 Report

North Korea’s Infamous Prison Camp 22

A special report titled “North Korea’s Camp No. 22 was released last week by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. The report was compiled in collaboration with DigitalGlobe (NYSE: DGI), a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions.

10,000 Expected to Starve in NK Drought

2012 Brings Hwanghae’s Worst Drought in 60 Years

Field Report:  10,000 Expected to Starve

Information coming in from LFNKR’s grass-roots network in North Korea indicates that the drought and starvation are seriously affecting South Hwanghae Province. The drought advancing on the granaries of North Korea is wreaking havoc on the harvest, and threatening widespread starvation.

Flying Snack Cakes for Freedom

Choco Pies Fly Free

LFNKR, working jointly with several South Korean NGOs, launched last month 20 large balloons into the skies above North Korea to carry 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of Choco Pies, along with a total of 3,000 leaflets. The site chosen for launching the balloons was Ganghwa Island, a site very close to NK. The island is located in the estuary of the Han River, on the west coast of South Korea.

9th Annual NK Freedom Week Starts Sunday in Seoul

 

The 9th annual North Korea Freedom Week starts this Sunday in Seoul, while a simultaneous NK Freedom Week event will also be held in London. Many of the events in Seoul are being led by North Korean defectors who had participated in the NKFW during the first six years it was held in Washington, D.C.

3000 NK Prisoners Granted Amnesty

 

News Leaks from North Korea

To celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s first leader, a general amnesty has been declared, and 3,740 prisoners released. Although a few political prisoners were reportedly included, no specific number or names have been disclosed.

China’s Yanbian Province Changing

Winter scene in Yanbian

LFNKR Staff Member Visits Yanbian, China

For the first time in more than ten years, I visited China’s Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. Recently, China has undergone remarkable economic development, and its impact has reached even China’s northeastern region of Yanbian. From my previous visit, I recall low-rise buildings scattered about and old Soviet-made cars on dilapidated roads.

Petition Begun for Rescuing NK Refugees

 

Refugees Need Immediate Help

Since Feb. 8, more than 30 North Korean refugees have reportedly been arrested and held by Chinese police in Shenyang, Yanji and Changchun. Most of these refugees wish to go to South Korea where their family members have resettled.  One of them, a teenage boy, has siblings in South Korea but no other family members in North Korea. 

New Propaganda Boosting Kim-Jong-un

 

Onsong, North Korea – Feb. 16, 2012

To mark the celebration of Kim Jong-il’s birthday this year, one bottle of distilled spirits and one cake of soap were distributed to every household in Onsong county. In other counties or cities, the quantities and items reportedly varied. North Korean citizens have begun saying of Kim Jong-un that “another Kim Il-sung (his grandfather) is born.”

Sending in the Choco Pies

North Koreans want Choco Pies

Help Send Choco Pies of Love for Valentine’s Day

Choco pies have become the most famous snacks among North Korean workers in Kaeson Industrial Park (see details below), but outside this one limited area, the rest of North Korea has little idea of the everyday luxuries available to the rest of the world.

NK People Uncertain Over New Leader’s Status

  

Kim Jong-un Depends on Regency of Chang Sung-taek

People in Onsong are saying that the recent conditions in North Korea remind them of the “Arduous March” back in the late 1970s.  There was a serious shortage of food then too. On Jan. 23, which is New Year’s day on the old calendar, the People’s Committee of Onsong County issued an order to distribute one 450-ml bottle of Shochu (distilled 20% proof spirits) per household.  Some troops received food rations on Jan. 2.