Category Archives: North Korean Refugees

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”

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.

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. 

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.

LFNKR’s 2012 Annual Report

Annual Report Released at 15th General Meeting 10/8/2012

Attending LFNKR’s 15th Annual Meeting in Tokyo this year were five North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan. They talked about how they had managed to survive and how they made a living in North Korea. They also discussed some of the difficulties they endured before finally making it to Japan.

South Korean Embassy in Bangkok Told of Orphans

Notified by email

To help assure that the two North Korean orphans suffering from tuberculosis will immediately receive all necessary health care, LFNKR emailed the following message to the South Korean Embassy in Bangkok on Aug. 7, 2012.

Two Orphans Require Rescue

 

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 Viewing Party in Tokyo

The cherry blossom viewing party in Shinjuku

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.

NK Orphan Needs Artificial Feet

Chong Il-guang's feet were frostbitten then burned severely

LFNKR recently received a letter from a homeless child (Kot-jebi) forwarded by a Christian-based NGO in South Korea. The letter was written by a 13-year-old Kot-jebi, who lost his feet due to frostbite aggravated by severe burns. Mr. Kim, a Korean NGO director, has been working with Korean missionaries and local Korean-Chinese to support North Korean defectors and Kot-jebi, homeless children. LFNKR has decided to join them to help strengthen their local activities. 

NK Refugee Passes 1st Level Language Exam

 

Level 1 text for Studying Japanese

Level 1 text for Studying Japanese

Just three years after arriving in Japan, I have passed Level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, so I decided to write about my experience in the hope that it might encourage others.

When I arrived at Narita airport, I finally met the person who had worked so hard to get me to Japan. The first words he said to me were, “Why did you want to come to Japan?”. At the time, I could only manage simple greetings in Japanese, and although I could vaguely understand what he was saying, I could not reply in his language.

Outflow of NK Refugees Resumes

 

Burglaries Rise, Food Shortage Worsens

LFNKR received a seventh flash update on January 9 from a local staff member operating in China. According to his report, the outflow of NK refugees along the Tumen River, which had temporarily ceased, has begun again. Although border security remains strict following the period of mourning that marked the death of Kim Jong-il, a growing number of North Korean refugees are being seen in villages along the Tumen River.

LFNKR Annual Report Released for 2011

Introduction

The new currency system initiated in November 2009 by North Korea has led to serious confusion in the country’s economy. As a result, poverty continues to deepen. Around November 2010, even in Pyongyang where relatively privileged people live, the supply of food has stopped. The currency revaluation slashed the currency to 1/100 of its previous value, but by March 2011, the price of rice per kilogram had risen to 1800 NKW. This is the same price it was before currency reform, and it indicates a complete failure of the government’s plan to suck money from its citizens.

Classes Teach NK Refugees Language, Social Skills

North Korean Refugees Complete First Japanese Language Course

1. How the Course Came About

Currently, 200 North Korean refugees have settled in Japan, and this number continues to grow steadily. To help refugees merge more easily into Japanese society, it is essential to establish and promote various forms of aid, the most crucial being Japanese language training. Despite the need, this country’s government has, so far, developed no plan to aid North Korean refugees in their settlement. Consequently, such aid has only been provided on a small scale, and left solely to the initiative of private volunteer groups or the self-help efforts of the refugees themselves.

Korean Food Booth Helps Raise Funds

LFNKR launched a new effort - a Korean food booth - with menu items including a selection of the most popular Korean dishes

Korean Food Booth

Global Festival Japan was held at Tokyo’s Hibiya Park on Oct. 1st and 2nd, 2011. Festival sponsors included a number of Japanese government organizations, The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association, and The National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan. Every year, more than 200 groups involved in a variety of issues join the Festival. Typically, these groups deal with human rights matters, child labor abuse, and poverty problems.

International Conference Gets Tough on NK

Download this ICNK Coalition Statement

On Sept. 8, some 40 human rights groups from 15 nations gathered in Tokyo to set up a nongovernmental organization called “The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity In North Korea” (ICNK). Four of LFNKR’s directors attended the conference.

One LFNKR Aid Center Closed Down

“I can no longer help defectors,” Mr. Kim told me.

For the past three years, he has worked with us, continually facing danger and difficulty as he has aided defectors. He is the person running JSH-01, one of five shelters situated along the Sino-Korean border. Recently, he has grown increasingly anxious as Chinese public safety and border defense units toughened their crackdown even further.

NK Refugees Get Japanese Language Training center

Japanese Language Education Center for North Korean Immigrants in Japan

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) on June 29, 2011, opened Japan’s first Japanese Language Education Center for North Korean Immigrants. This has long been one of LFNKR’s dreams.

The first class includes seven North Korean students, with ages ranging from 35 to 62, and averaging 48 years old. Directors of the Center include Kato Hiroshi, executive director of LFNKR, plus a second director, and Tomoharu Ebihara, executive director of ARNKA (Association for the Rescue of North Korea Abductees, Chiangmai), who was instrumental in establishment of the Center.

Food Prices Rising in North Korea

Current Prices in DPRK

Price research conducted by Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Surveyed: Morning of June 12, 2011
Data Released: 13th June
Research in Onsong and Chonjin North Hamgyong Province

Food Price List for DPRK

Hand Knitted Gifts for North Korean Refugees

  

Founding a supporting group

About a year ago, we briefly reported on a Ms. Warmheart, who hand-knits warm caps, scarfs and mittens for North Korean orphans. Since then, she has started a support group to encourage others to join this hand-knitting project of hers. The following is about one of the ladies in her group.

Young NK Refugees Thriving in Japan

Excelling in Japanese Language Studies

On February 15, LFNKR members were excited to hear that Hyun Ki* and Ae Sook* had received high level certificates in the national Japanese language certification exam, which they took back in December. Both are 26-year-old former North Korean refugees, and both reached Japan 3 years ago with the help of LFNKR.

11-Year-Old Former Refugee Plays Chopin

Child's hands playing Chopin

Entire Family Succeeding

One of LFNKR’s directors is Dr. W, a Zainichi (ethnic Korean resident of Japan). Recently he was invited to visit a former North Korean refugee family.  They are the first family that LFNKR ever helped resettle in Japan.  When they reached safety in Japan 11 years ago, their daughter was only one year old.  In the intervening years, Dr. W has witnessed this family’s hardship and their difficulties securing work in Japan.

Dog Boosts Donations at Rally

Dog Boosts Donations at Rally

Helpful Dog, Momoko, Plays Important Role in Fundraising

On Oct. 23, in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office, a large-scale rally was held in support of rescuing victims abducted by North Korea. Hosted by the metropolitan assembly legislator coalition and Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea (Japanese NGO), a rally for rescuing the victims abducted by North Korea was held on Oct. 23 at the square in front of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office.

LFNKR Annual Report Released

Introduction

When North Korea suddenly switched to a new currency in November 2009, the low limit for exchanges ensured that any savings accumulated in old currency by North Koreans largely vanished. This demonstrates that although the developing private market activity had only reached a rudimentary level, it was possible for people to accumulate new wealth. This growing segment of newly wealthy was dominating distribution and their voices began to be heard in their communities.

Famine and “Barley Mountain ” Prompt Increased Defections

Time of Crossing Bo-rit-kko-ge, Barley Hill

In Pyongyang, rice distribution is halted, potatoes are seldom available

On March 26, when the South Korean patrol ship Cheonan was sunk in Korean waters near the Northern Limit Line, 46 South Korean sailors died. An international team of civilian and military investigators from Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia found that the underwater explosion was caused by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine, thus sinking the ship. Pyongyang has denied responsibility.

Rising tensions along the China-North Korea border

Following the sinking of Cheonan, tensions have risen sharply along the China-North Korea border. On the North Korean side of the Tumen River, the number of heavily armed soldiers deployed has tripled since the incident. Every morning and evening, fully equipped North Korean soldiers, are seen chanting and running in formation with their guns in hand.

The head of the border police at the Tumen River customs office now faces greater pressure.

Until the incident, this area had been famous for its border tours, with crowds of people thronging the souvenir shops and restaurants. Tourists took many vacation snapshots home with them from here. In the restaurants, old men sat drinking beer and reminiscing about North Korea.

But in Chinese society, where word of mouth matters, reports of the North Korean troops quickly spread and the number of tourists declined sharply.

One owner of a Tumen River-side restaurant expressed anger with North Korea, and disappointment with the sharp decline in business because customers fear the tense situation in the area. He is also extremely nervous, since no one knows what will happen next, nor when.

Inspectors from the State Security Department and the Central Military Commission

Until the rice planting season in May, the State Security Agency officials from Pyongyang, who had been sent to carry out inspections, were staying in the homes of the border guards and the Sixth Army Corps officers.

Since the incident, however, inspectors from the Central Military Commission have begun reviewing the troops. Tension is also rising in North Korea. At one of our shelters, not one single North Korean has come seeking food since the Cheonan sinking incident. Previously, 30 people a month was typical.

The North Korean border guards, who routinely took half of all rice coming in from China as their own share, are now unable to take any. They are out of business and out of work.

In response to this tense situation, both China and the Shenyang Military Region, in an effort to avoid provoking North Korea, have been secretly taking action to deal with the situation. At the present stage, the local government and the communist party are handling matters and remain on the alert.

China has been trying to maintain an appearance of normalcy, but they continue to watch matters closely.

Though the situation is tense, cross-border traffic between China and North Korea continues to be treated normally. As yet, no restrictions have been imposed.

Fifty thousand passes issued

In November of last year, North Korea informed China that it would issue border passes to 50,000 North Korean citizens. At that time, the announcement was not handled by North Korea’s foreign affairs people. Instead, it was the State Security Department who explained it to China’s police officers.

The reason, they explained, was to allow North Korean citizens access to support from their relatives in China. It is highly probable that, even in Yanji city, many North Koreans have received such passes legally and entered China.

In many cases, the relatives in China are unable to offer much help. In such unfortunate cases they also seek help from churches, from our shelters and from our collaborators.

Without support, North Koreans become refugees

North Koreans usually enter China on one-month visas. Many of them, however, cannot return to North Korea until they have received the help they need. This is because, in many cases, they have borrowed the equivalent of $500 for their visa application fees and travel expenses from their acquaintances and friends. As a result, these North Koreans end up becoming illegal overstayers or refugees, who often then try to depart to third countries.

Seeing this opportunity, some North Koreans have gone to South Korea, so North Korea quickly responded by sending State Security Agency personnel to China to crack down on this practice.

For a while, it had appeared that the North Korean Security Agency had suspended these operations. But according to information from one person within the Chinese police, since the Cheonan incident, more than 100 Security Agency people have been actively operating in Yanji city.

It is time to cross over Bo-rit-kko-ge, Barley Mountain

In Yanji city I met two North Korean refugees from Wonsan-city, Gangwon-do province in early July. This mother and daughter had decided never to return to their home country. They asked me to help them because they are seeking a way to reach South Korea.

Their IDs presented no problem, since they were introduced to me by people with whom I had worked previously. Even so, there was no guarantee they could get to South Korea safely.

Worse, if they happened to be arrested and repatriated to North Korea before they reached South Korea, the names of the people helping them would be uncovered in the course of interrogations, which would put those people in danger. We discussed this, weighing the danger involved against our own safety.

People in Wonsan are being told it is time to cross Bo-rit-kko-ge

(Note: “Bo-ri” means barley and “ko-ge” means high hill or mountain. In the past, in many Asian countries, springtime would bring a period of hunger before the barley was ready for harvest, but after the previous year’s rice had already run out. The expression includes the nuance that it is very hard to get over the mountain before the barley harvest. It was especially bad for the poor. During this season, people usually comb the mountains seeking anything edible, including roots and sprouts, or what we call “san na-mul”, which is basically anything green.)

The mother and daughter told us that that they had no food, no medicine, and that they had lost their property in the currency reform. They expressed anger because they can never expect anything good to happen, no matter how much longer they stayed in North Korea. They said that they had no choice but leave because they simply could not make it over Barley Mountain.

A Korean-Chinese trader, who knows a North Korean doctor working in a Pyongyang ophthalmic hospital, reported that the food situation there had reached its worst point ever. In expressing sympathy for the North Koreans, he used the same phrase: it’s a time of crossing Bo-rit-kko-ge.

Top doctor hasn’t had rice for six months

This ophthalmic hospital was built with support from South Korea. It is said that everything, including medicines, medical equipment and facilities, were sent from South Korea, although all the doctors working there are from Pyongyang. This is a first-rate hospital, yet it needs to obtain food supplies on its own, and cannot manage to accomplish this.

This doctor, the head of his department, hadn’t eaten white rice for half a year. The hospital seldom distributes any kind of food, and only occasionally distributes new potatoes. Thus, even the doctors are suffering from the food crisis.

With the doctors employed in top medical facilities enduring conditions like this, it is clear that ordinary Pyongyang citizens are suffering even more severely from this unprecedented famine.

Special Report by Kato Hiroshi
     Executive Director of LFNKR

 

A Private Citizen’s Letter to Chinese Authorities

Citizens Speak Out  

LFNKR recently acquired a copy of a letter sent to Chinese authorities by one of our readers, a private citizen living in the United Kingdom. This letter clearly outlines some of the more critical issues now facing China and North Korea.

Dear Sir/Madam,

LFNKR Members Visit Golden Triangle

The giant golden Buddha landmark in northern Thailand

Summary Report  

As part of this organization’s ongoing rescue research activities, we dispatched several of members to the Northern Thailand border area in early July 2010. This is the so-called “Golden Triangle” area encompassing parts of Laos, Myanmar and Northern Thailand. The area was once famed as a heroin production and trafficking route, but now it is very well known among North Korean refugees as the entryway to sanctuary in Thailand.

Survivor of NK Starvation Speaks

Movie poster for "Crossing"

NK orphan talks about the movie “Crossing”

At the Jan. 29 preview of the movie “Crossing” in Tokyo, one of LFNKR’s foster children joined the preview press conference to talk about her experiences.  An orphan, she had lost her parents to starvation in North Korea, but is now a university student in South Korea.  LFNKR members are happy see that she has grown into such a fine lady.  The movie apparently reminded her of her own childhood.

Visit to Bangkok’s Immigrant Detention Center

Front gate of Thailand's IDC (Immigration Detention Center), where they await forwarding to South Korea, the US or Japan.

Although Thailand is not the final destination for North Korean defectors flowing into this country, this flow is currently the largest in the world, outside of China.  The numbers have steadily increased over the past several years.  According to the Thai government, about 1,000 North Korean defectors were detained here in 2007.  From 2008 and after, the Thai government stopped publicly announcing numbers, but my estimation is about 1,500 in 2008 and a bit higher in 2009.

University in US Recognizes LFNKR Director Noguchi

University Website Mentions Noguchi’s New Book  

Arkansas State University posted an article, Thursday June 3rd, on its school news website, Inside ASU, describing the new book written by alumnus Takayuki Noguchi. The book, entitled Escaping with North Korean Defectors, relates his experiences in China as he helped North Korean refugees escape to freedom.

LFNKR Director Publishes Book in Japan

Book - Escaping with North Korean Defectors

Success, Failure and Imprisonment

A young Japanese man begins a risky mission to help North Korean refugees escape across the China border into Vietnam.

Noguchi Takayuki, one of this organization’s directors, relates how he was jailed in China in 2003 for engaging in humanitarian work. His book, “Escaping with North Korean Defectors,” was released on April 10, 2010. Noguchi, a young volunteer with a Japanese NGO, was on a mission to guide North Korean defectors to freedom, but ended up jailed in China for 243 days.

LFNKR Dispatches 2 Members to UN Working Group

LFNKR sends open Letter to Japan's Prime Minister Hatoyama

LFNKR, together with three other human rights groups, has sent a letter of recommendations to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Japan’s policy toward North Korea’s human rights and refugees.

Read the full text of the letter here.

See an NK Refugee Destination in Person

29 October 2009 – Sunday  

A one-day tour has been scheduled for 29 October to visit Chiang Sean, the small town in northern Thailand where we recently donated boxes of supplies (pictures here)

This in-person visit to a North Korean refugee “escape route and destination,” will include visits to the Chiang Sean Police Station and Mae Sai Immigration Office, plus a boat trip on the Mekong River. The North Korean refugees must cross this river to reach safety in Thailand. This one-day tour will be on 29 Nov. – a Sunday.

Medicines for NK Refugees Detained in Thailand

Chiang Saen, Thailand

Mr. Tomoharu Ebihara and an LFNKR staff member visited the Chiang Saen Police Station in northern Thailand to donate non-prescription medicines, blankets, and other items for North Korean refugees being detained there. Mr. Ebihara works at Thailand-Japan center, Payap University in Chiang Mai and also heads The Association for the Rescue of North Korea Abductees, Chiangmai (ARNKA).

Former Foster Child Weds – LFNKR Invited

Mr. Kato and Ms. Watanabe stand in as parents for the bride and groom, who are both former North Korean orphan refugees.

Mr. Kato and Ms. Watanabe stand in as parents for the bride and groom, both of whom are former North Korean refugees. 

_____________________________

It has been ten years since LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) staff members working in China found 10 North Korean orphans who had fled to China to escape the starvation. These first children were the stimulus that prompted LFNKR to begin an education sponsorship program that would enable us to protect them and provide them with an education.

US NGO Report – ‘Lives for Sale’

Personal Accounts of NK Women Fleeing to China  

An American NGO, The US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), at the end of April this year, released a 64-page document titled “Lives for Sale.”  The report includes 53 summarized personal accounts, along with the history and context of such human trafficking of North Korean women in China.  Most of the women fall into the hands of brokers, who sell them to Chinese farmers or to China’s sex trade.

Resettling NK Defectors in USA

Special Report by S. Yee

For a long while now, I have been keenly interested in what happens to North Koreans who have resettled in the USA via a third country. This is partly because I have been involved with Life Funds for North Korean Refugees in protecting and helping North Korean defectors in Southeast Asia. I wondered if there was anything I could do to help those who were headed for America, so when I had the opportunity in April and May to visit the US, I decided to find out how they are doing.

Unexpected Gifts of Love for Foster Children

Hand-knitted scarves, hats, mittens donated by "Ms Warmheart"

Early Christmas Gifts from US Warm LFNKR Members’ Hearts, Too

On July 3, a package filled with knitted goods arrived at the LFNKR office in Tokyo. They were sent by a lady in the US, who knitted them all herself.

She wrote that as she knitted, she pictured the finished gloves, mufflers and caps warming the North Korean foster children who are in LFNKR’s education sponsorship program.

Special US Report on NK Refugees

Interviews with North Koreans in China

In June 2004, Joel R. Charny of Refugees International spent one week in Jilin province in China interviewing 38 North Korean refugees. They live, Charney found, a precarious and clandestine existence as illegal migrants. Download Charny’s 7-page report in PDF format.

Financial Crunch Also Hits LFNKR

Feeling the Financial Crisis

Falling donations are slashing LFNKR’s rescue activities. This means disaster for many of the North Korean refugees now waiting for help. In fact, we can do less and less for them as our operating funds shrink. It’s a fact that most NGOs in Japan now face financial crisis. LFNKR is, unfortunately, no exception.  Some large-scale organizations command huge financial support from religious or political sources. We do not.

What Repatriated NK Refugees Must Endure

Below is our interview with a North Korean defector.

“I escaped into China on November 27, 2008.  This is my fifth escape.  I have no place to go.  Let me die here or please help me.”

The temperature outside is already down to -10°C and it will continue to fall.  Hong Song-man, 65 years old, begged the interviewer (an LFNKR local staff member) for help, pleading with tears in his eyes.  He said he had previously stayed in a village in Helong, Yanbian Korean-Chinese autonomous state of Jilin Province, where villagers helped him.

Experts Urge Japan to Accept All NK Defectors

Could Resolve Abduction Issue

On March 11, in Pusan, South Korea, the family of Yaeko Taguchi, one of the Japanese victims abducted by the North Korean government, met with Kim Hyun-hee, the woman who was once sentenced to death for bombing a KAL airliner in 1987. People in Japan watched, enthralled, as they hugged each other on TV.  Testimony by Kim Hyun-hee had revealed that Yaeko Taguchi, the Japanese woman abducted in 1978, was forced to train Kim Hyun-hee to pass as a Japanese. Read that news story here.

SK President’s Policies Ignore Refugees

Nothing New from Lee Myung-bak

South Korea’s pro-North stance, including its Sunshine Policy and its Engagement Policy implemented by the regimes of Kim Dae-jung and Roh-Moo-hyun, has caused untold suffering for the North Korean people and North Korean defectors due to rampant human rights violations. 

Tokyo Seminar on Refugees and Human Rights in Asia

On March 14, the Tokyo Seminar on Refugees and Human Rights in Asia was held at the JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Global Space.

LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) co-hosted the seminar with the Society to Help Returnees to North Korea. Also participating were speakers from Kachin Women’s Association in Thailand, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition Japan, Human Rights Watch Tokyo, and Japan Association for Refugees.

Part 2 of Kim Chun Gun’s Story

His Dream – to Own a Yakitori Restaurant

Kim Chun Gun had only 1 month left until his visa expired when he decided to contact Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) – basically his last hope. When contacting us, Chun Gun mentioned that a Mr. Shin, the president of a Korean company, had suggested he get in touch with LFNKR.  He, however, knew President Shin only indirectly and had never actually met him.  He was told that President Shin, a humanitarian aid worker, had helped Chun Gun’s mother, who had already resettled in South Korea.  Still, Chun Gun was uncertain whether mentioning Shin’s name would even work.

Former Foster Child Visits Benefactor’s Grave in Japan

A Walk in the Shinobuyama Snow

On January 12, 2009, our group, LFNKR held an event to celebrate receiving this year’s Tokyo Bar Association Human Rights Prize. One of our former foster children, Song Hyuk (not his real name), flew from South Korea to attend the event with his girlfriend (also a North Korean defector) and Mr. Kim Sang Hun, a human rights activist.

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.

Recommendations for the Obama Administration

When the president of one of most influential American NGOs having strong ties with the US government visited Japan in early March, LFNKR directors met with him to discuss the North Korean refugees.

We submitted the following recommendations on the approach to China, and requested that he strongly urge the Obama Administration to adopt the recommendations in establishing its approach to China.