Category Archives: Public Awareness

Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Chinese Activist

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to China’s Liu Xiaobo

Congratulations to Mr. Liu Xiaobo of China for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. We at LFNKR deeply respect his unrelenting dedication to human rights and democracy. This award can, we believe, help motivate the Chinese government to improve its stance toward human rights.

Poor Health Plaguing Children of NK Defector Women

Children Suffering from Stunted Growth

Recently we had a doctor examine the health of 8 abandoned children of NK mothers in China who had been forcibly repatriated to North Korea. In every case the doctor found stunted growth or malnutrition – or both. Although no official statistics have emerged, reports from local members working in our shelters suggest that there may be as many as 7,000 or 8,000 children of North Korean mothers “married” to Chinese men living in Yanbian, Jilin district in China.

China Attempts Blackmail of Japan over NK Refugees

– North Korean refugees trapped 2 years in Japanese diplomatic missions in China
– China demands Japan stop accepting and protecting North Korean refugees.

On July 8, the Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper, ran a feature by journalist Takuya Suzuki. According to this article, the Chinese government is demanding a written pledge from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) that no Japanese diplomatic mission in China will ever again accept or protect North Korean refugees.

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.

Donor Sends Warm, Hand Knitted Clothing

More Gifts from Ms. Warmheart

LFNKR’s foster children in China are excited to receive warm, stylish, hand-knitted caps and mufflers. The wonderful knits continue to arrive from Ms. Warmheart in the US, who personally knits each piece for LFNKR’s foster children.

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.

US State Dept. Honors LFNKR’s Kato

US State Department presented Kato their Freedom Defender Award on 26 April 2010

Exec. Director Kato Recognized

In recognition for years of effort on behalf of North Korean refugees hiding in China, the US State Department, on 26 April 2010, presented a special certificate to LFNKR Executive Director Kato Hiroshi in a ceremony at the US embassy in Tokyo.

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.

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.

LFNKR Seeks Closer Ties with UN

Application for ECOSOC Status
Report Submitted to Human Rights Council

Resolving the various human rights issues related to North Korea requires the understanding and cooperation of the international community. With this in mind, Life Funds has recently been working to build and deepen ties to the United Nations.

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.

NK Foster Kids Write “Report Cards”

Foster Kids Send Their “Report Cards”  

Recently at the LFNKR office we received a packet of letters from our North Korean foster children in China, telling us about their school achievements. Clearly some of these children are gifted students, and it would be a tragic waste if they were denied an education. We are delighted that they are doing well and learning very rapidly. It is my hope that the happiness in their lives can continue.

China Denies National ID for Shadow Children

‘Shadow Chidren’ Have No Nationality, Legal Status  

In China, the number of children having no national identity papers continues to rise, particularly in the provinces of Jilin, Heilongjang, and Liaoning where the trend is strongest. These so-called “shadow children,” born to female North Korean defectors and Korean-Chinese or Han-Chinese men, are denied the right to register as real Chinese, which means they have neither identification nor official standing. 

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.

First Hints of Free Journalism for North Korea

Japanese Language Magazine Reports from inside North Korea

North Korea is increasingly attracting world attention because of its recent missile launch and the issue of who will succeed Kim Jong-il.  These issues should motivate us to step up our efforts to discover what is happening inside North Korea and how the common people are doing there. 

The flood of news about the missile launch, which usually depends on official North Korean announcements, helps hide signs that the badly weakened Kim Jong-il regime cannot afford to feed its soldiers and that the majority of common people see their leader’s policies as failures.  I believe that, to deal with North Korea, it is increasingly urgent to focus on the real picture there, rather than possibly over- or under-estimating the regime.

North Korea suffers from a serious ailment.  All the neighboring countries in East Asia, as well as the US are very well aware that the country’s illness is critical, and they are willing to help North Korea. They hope for the nation to become a healthy, normal country as soon as possible.  However, none of the concerned countries has been able to identify the cause or locate the wound. Therefore, they have not yet been able to properly diagnose or treat the condition. 

Although the international community is very willing to find the cause of this serious illness, the patient, North Korea, will not disrobe, will not even allow its pulse to be taken.

The North Korean regime has confined itself inside a deep hole, with no sign that it wishes to come out.  The regime, completely isolated from international society, is unlikely to heal itself without outside help. 

What is needed first is a proper diagnosis of the illness.  This requires that highly accurate, reliable information on the internal condition of North Korea be consistently supplied to the outside world.  A diagnosis based on inaccurate or inadequate information could lead to a misdiagnosis, leading to a delayed cure or even a worsening of the illness. 

This is why I decided to plant the seeds of journalism in North Korea. 

North Korea is currently going through a dramatic change. During the past 15 years, the commercial transactions started by common people after the economical failure of the nation have enormously developed with a resultant rapid growth of market economy.

Concurrently with the growth of the market economy, more people are beginning to go for self-sustained living. More people think for themselves, make their own decisions and take action. In other words, the people’s way of thinking and their sense of values are significantly changing.

The magazine features comments from common people in North Korea collected by Rimjingang reporters living underground while in the country. The comments represent true public opinions of the people living under this tyranny.

These public opinions may help provide the materials to help reach a proper diagnosis of the serious illness of the North Korean society.

Report by Jiro Ishimaru
(Publisher of Rimjingang, Asiapress)

Go here to read a brief introduction of Mr. Jiro Ishimaru and the “Rimjingang” magazine.



LFNKR Comments:

Even while North Korea still has many helplessly starving people, a growing number of individuals have begun to take matters into their own hands, setting up to sell small goods along roadsides or under bridges. They are seeking a private income for survival in response to the collapse of the government’s economic policy.

To discourage the spread of private selling, the government has set up public markets for small merchants, such as the one shown below.

The owner of each 1-sq-meter booth sells food in a publicly-run market in Kang-dong, a suburb south of Pyongyang.  (Photo by Chang Jung-gil, a reporter with Rimjingang, the magazine published by Jiro Ishimaru, Asiaoress.)

The owner of each 1-sq-meter booth sells food in a publicly-run market in Kang-dong, a suburb south of Pyongyang. (Photo by Chang Jung-gil, a reporter with Rimjingang, the magazine published by Jiro Ishimaru, Asiaoress.)

 

 

Rumors – China May Recognize Some NK Refugees

Expectations High, but Will Plan Be Implemented?

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

Seminar on Refugees & Human Rights to Be Held in Tokyo

Agenda for Tokyo Seminar

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

Tokyo Bar Association Awards Human Rights Prize to LFNKR

Kato Hiroshi, executive director of LFNKR, speaking at awards event

Kato’s Speech Text

Honored members of the human rights awards screening committee of the Tokyo Bar Association, and ladies and gentlemen gathered here today, I would like to express profound thanks to the esteemed Tokyo Bar Association for presenting the human rights awards for 2008. We at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees are deeply honored to receive your award this year.

Downloadable Brochure You Can Use

Front cover of the folded brochure

The easy Way to Tell Others About North Korea
~ Ready to print and hand out

LFNKR often receives requests from public-minded citizens and organizations asking for materials to help them spread the word about North Korea’s many human rights violations. Below is a brochure that you can freely download and print out when you wish to tell others what’s happening behind the curtain of secrecy in North Korea. The brochure gives a quick overview of our group’s activities and invites readers to browse our site for further information.

Global Festival in Tokyo Proves Popular

A Global Festival to commemorate the global citizenship of every person on earth

Almost Eighty Thousand Attend

A Global Festival to commemorate the global citizenship of every person on earth was held for two days in Tokyo, beginning on Oct. 6, which is designated International Cooperation Day. The event was hosted by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

Kato Addresses Thai University

Main Gate of Chiang Mai University

Thailand’s Chiang Mai University Invites First-Ever Lecture on North Korean Refugee Issue

On Jan. 23, 2009, Mr. Kato Hiroshi, Executive Director of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) presented a lecture on the North Korean human rights and refugee issue at Chiang Mai University. Chiang Mai University (CMU), with about 17,000 students, is the largest university in Northern Thailand.

American Peace Worker Honored in Seoul

Suzanne Scholte Wins Seoul Peace Prize

FROM WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
September 10, 2008

North Korean human-rights abuses often go unnoticed, especially by South Korea, where past governments have preferred to ignore the brutal nature of the Pyongyang regime to the north. The awarding of the Seoul Peace Prize to American Suzanne Scholte last week therefore marks a welcome change.

Activist Tim Peters Receives Human Rights Award

Activist Tim Peters

From: Norwegian Mission to the East

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

Movie ‘Crossing’ Wins High Praise

"Crossing" - the Movie

It also Raises Valid Questions

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

Bicycling Campaign Across Europe for NK Rights

Call for Volunteer Participants

LFNKR is joining the bicycling campaign hosted by Justice for North Korea. The campaign is to publicize the North Korean human rights issue and bring it to the attention of Europe. To maximize the impact of this campaign, we are calling for as many participants as possible. Those who wish to ride bicycles may do so, but that is not a requirement. Buses will accompany the riders, so it will be possible to ride bicycles on only selected segments of the route (or only one). Some participants may elect to ride the bus only.

LFNKR’s Kato Speaks Out on Government Policies

On April 2, 2008 in Korea…

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

LFNKR Protests Nagano Olympic Torch Relay

LFNKR joins protesters at Nagano Olympic Torch Relay

Nagano Japan, April 26:

The Olympic torch relay was carried out under high security as 3,000 policemen stood at high alert. The heavy guard was posted to protect relay runners from intruders throwing raw eggs and tomatoes, but it also kept away interested citizens. Many of those attending were asking “Is this a peace festival? Aren’t the Olympics supposed to be a symbol of peace and friendship?”

Join the North Korean Freedom Week Events

Update from Suzanne Scholte
of North Korea Freedom Coalition

Dear Friends:

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

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

Letter to China’s Hu on Behalf of 4 NK Prisoners

From North Korea Freedom Coalition

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President, People’s Republic of China
c/o His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Mr. President:

Japan’s 2nd Annual NK Human Rights Public Awareness Week

Special Report on Events in Japan

The second annual North Korean Human Rights Public Awareness Week took place during Dec. 10th through 16th, 2007, as set forth in Japan’s “North Korean Human Rights Act,” which was enacted in June 2006. The many events held included government-hosted events, as well as international conferences and symposiums. 

Hurry-Up Trial in China for NK Activist

Trial Set for Monday, Nov. 26

Your quick help is needed – Please immediately write to the Chinese authorities listed below, urging them to release the very brave North Korean activist, Yoo Sang-joon, who is now a South Korean citizen. He tragically lost his young son as he tried to escape from China and has since been working to rescue other North Koreans from danger in China.

Proposed Action Plan for 2007-2008

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, NGO

Strained Relations

The crackdown on North Korean refugees by both the Chinese and North Korean governments has drastically cut the flow of North Koreans into China, reducing it to levels below those of the past decade. China’s official position is that North Korean refugees do not exist, a stance that blatantly ignores international law, including the Convention on the Status of Refugees, to which it is a signatory nation.

Report on LFNKR Activities in FY 2006

Annual Activities Report

It is now obvious that North Korean defectors are being widely recognized and accepted as a legitimate issue by the international community. According to the resolution unanimously passed by the UN General Assembly last December, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea has been urging the North Korean government to correct its serious infringement of human rights and to allow the rapporteur entry into the country to investigate human rights there.

US Deputy Special Envoy Addresses Bangkok Conference

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

Christian Whiton Addresses
The Conference on North Korean Human Rights

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

Photos of Bangkok Conference on NK Refugees

Human Rights Issues Discussed

Over 170 participants plus 20 international journalists and media people packed the conference hall of the Ambassador Hotel Bangkok. These are photos of several of the presenters.

US Lawmakers Call for Boycott of Beijing Olympics

US Lawmakers Introduce Legislation

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

Japan Needs Refugee Settlement Program ASAP

Special Report by Kato Hiroshi

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

International Conference on North Korean Human Rights

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

OVERVIEW

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

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

3 NK Orphans Headed for Classes in So. Korea

3 orphans held in Laos jail

Three to Four Months of Orientation Ahead

The three young North Koreans who were imprisoned in Laos were charged with illegal entry into and exit from the country and given three-month sentences. After completing their sentences in the capital Vientiane, they remained in custody because as minors, they needed a guardian but none was forthcoming.

International Protest Slated for April 28, 2007

To Save North Korean Refugees

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) urges each person reading this to take part in the International Protest against China’s Violent Treatment of North Korean Refugees. This Protest, led by NORTH KOREA FREEDOM COALITION, is scheduled to be held all around the World on April 28. North Korean refugees who escape into China seeking food and freedom immediately encounter a new problem – the constant fear of arrest and repatriation by Chinese authorities.

3 NK Orphans’ Letters Released to News Media

North Korean Orphans Plead for Help

The three letters quoted below were written by three desperate North Korean children who are now in the Vientiane Jail in Laos. They are very aware of the risk of repatriation back to North Korea. The letters show their anger and their confusion over the situation but at the same time, reveal how desperate they are with their appeal for help.

Abandoned Children in China

Many Problems Confront Children of North Korean Mothers and Chinese Fathers

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

Choi Yong-hun Home from Chinese Prison

Friends greet Choi at airport

Friends greet Choi at airport

Following 3 years and 10 months of Chinese “hospitality”, Choi Yong-hun is back home in South Korea, reunited with his family.

NEWS FLASH: Choi Yong-hun Released Today

Jailed in China for 3 years, 10 months

BREAKING NEWS: Choi Yong-hun, the South Korean humanitarian aid worker imprisoned by China for nearly 4 years left prison today and flew back home to South Korea. Choi was met at Incheon Airport this evening by close family members. And although he appears extremely weak following his imprisonment, he took the time to express his thanks to all those around the world who have supported him with their prayers, letters and other contributions.

International Symposium on North Korean Human Rights

Public Awareness Week

In June 2006, the North Korean Human Rights Law was established in Japan. This law specifies December 10-16 as the North Korean Human Rights Week and resolves that both governmental and regional institutions shall put forth efforts to increase public awareness of human rights violations by North Korea.

LFNKR Action Plan for FY 2006-2007

Overview

Last year, a single charter flight from Vietnam carried 460 North Koreans into South Korea. This case had a strong impact on the international community and spotlighted North Korea’s human rights problems. It remains to be seen, however, what lessons it has taught the South Korean government, which fears a similar incident occurring in Thailand.

LFNKR Activity Report – FY 2005-2006

Annual Report 2006

Activity Report – Fiscal Year 2005-2006  

Pressure on the North Korean government by the international community is increasing thanks to greater international awareness of the grave human rights abuses committed by the North Korean government, in addition to the refugee and abductee issues.

Joint Appeal to Thailand

175 NK Refugees Still Need Help

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) has jointly submitted the following Appeal to the Immigration Authorities of Thailand.

We urge you to send another letter to the Thai Ambassador in your country requesting that these refugees be safely released to South Korea or other country where they will be safe from repatriation to North Korea.

Third Annual NK Freedom Week in Washington DC

 April 22nd through 30th 2006 in Washington DC

The North Korea Freedom Coalition has organized an impressive list of activities for the week of April 22 through April 30 to express public support for the North Korean people suffering under the repressive regime of Kim Jong Il.

Lawmaker Proposes Human Rights Law in Japan Diet

Diet member, Masaharu Nakagawa …

is spearheading a parliamentary bill addressing a number of current problems that Japan faces with its neighbor, North Korea. The bill, sponsored by the Democratic Party of Japan, was officially presented to the House of Representatives on Feb. 25, 2005 under the leadership of Rep. Nakagawa, team leader of the North Korea Issue Project. The Democratic Party is targeting passage of the bill during the current session.