Category Archives: Relief Work
Because Donations Have Fallen Off …
One important part of our assistance efforts is the orphanages we support. Winter is upon us now, and the six-month cold season in that region always means heavier expenses.
Some of that increase goes for warm winter clothes, of course, but the bulk is needed for coal to heat the buildings where our orphans live.
Exciting Donation and Financing Technology
Help One More North Korean Refugee Reach Safety
Everybody’s familiar with how fast Internet technology advances. Way, way back in 2003, when we instituted a new way for you to donate (via PayPal), it was still a fairly new idea. But time rolls quickly onward.
And now, there’s a new option we think you might appreciate. It’s called “Crowd Funding” and it’s an easy way to make donations to help support the rescue of North Korean refugees. Find out more about crowd funding here.
Date: November 29, 2014
From 17th Gen. Meeting Oct. 19, 2014
As a member of the ICNK, LFNKR has been actively working with other international NGO members to help the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate North Korean human rights violations. Primary activities include providing investigation materials, as well as related North Korean and Chinese written laws and regulations, testimonies by previous detainees at the notorious death camps and their relatives, public hearings of North Korean defectors and nonofficial interviews with North Korean defectors.
Japanese & Korean NGOs
To Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Request for the Permanent Resettlement in Japan of all Japanese Spouses and Family (including grandchildren) of Ethnic Koreans “Repatriated” to North Korea on the occasion of the Stockholm Agreement between Japan and North Korea
On the occasion of the July 1 initiation of the Japan-North Korea government-level consultations, we would like to express our deepest respect for your commitment to resolving humanitarian problems including the issue of helping those abducted by North Korea.
Here Are LFNKR’s Latest Tweets
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.
From 16th General Meeting. Oct. 20, 2013
LFNKR, in FY2012 (Sept. 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013), has witnessed improved awareness in the international community with respect to the North Korean human rights issue. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), was established in Sept. 2011. This organization, which includes 43 international NGOs in 15 countries, is engaged in lobbying activities. The ICNK group in Japan, of which LFNKR is also a member, has repeatedly visited Japanese Diet lawmakers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) as well as a number of foreign embassies in Tokyo.
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.
to Hold Public Hearings in UK And US
COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
GENEVA, 17 October 2013 – The United Nations-mandated commission investigating the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will begin next week a series of public hearings in the United Kingdom and the United States aimed at gathering information from witnesses on rights violations alleged to have occurred in the Asian nation.
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.
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.
By LFNKR local staff member in China
A group of typical students study at one of our foster care shelters in China. The shelter is situated near the North Korean border. It is true that the North Korean government provides facilities in each province to accommodate Kot-jebi (homeless street children). However, since the facilities are chronically short of food, many children, driven by hunger, run away to seek food on their own.
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.
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.
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.
Foster Parent Program
In early August of 2011, scholarships for the new fiscal year were awarded to our foster education children. And we were able to add one new child to those receiving scholarships for a total of 20 recipients. This latest child is a boy born in 2004. Like so many so-called “shadow children,” his mother is a North Korean defector, and his father is ethnic Han Chinese.
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.
A North Korean defector couple have donated 20,000 toothbrushes to victims of the recent tsunami. When the Great Earthquake struck Eastern Japan on March 11, I was in an office in Osaka City. An office worker at a nearby desk suddenly cried, “Earthquake!” Another man who was there went outside to listen to his car radio. He shouted, “There’s a 6-meter tsunami warning!”
Nonstop television broadcasts showed unimaginable misery. The people who lived in the affected area must have grown up hearing about the dangers of tsunamis from the elderly… but I could not put those thoughts into words. Then, even after the tsunami seemed to be over, it struck a second time, and a third.
Surgery Done without Anesthesia
A local LFNKR staff member in North Korea in charge of medical support spoke with a Japanese surgeon recently. The surgeon said that even if a doctor is very good, there was no way to perform operations successfully without postoperative management or the required sterile instruments, disinfecting, antibiotics and transfusions. It was even stated that antibiotics might not be necessary after operations if wounds were uninfected, because these days operations are done in clean environments.
We Can Help Only a Handful
Although thousands upon thousands in North Korea were without food, warm clothes or adequate shelter this past winter, we were able to provide relief for only a few hundred. By November of each year, our organization must secure the money needed to send shipments of winter clothing, medical kits and rice to some of the most needy people in North Korea through our local underground network. Thus, we are starting early to build up funds for next winter. According to some observers, conditions are likely to be even worse by then.
Empowering Our Youth
Ordinarily we don’t mention specific charities or fund raising groups, but this initiative involving students is so unique and delightful that we decided you’d probably want to hear about it. The 100,000 Paper Cranes to Rebuild Japan project was brought to our attention by a friend in the US.
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.
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.
Critical Shortage of Foods and Medicines in North Korea
The disastrous floods of July and August have caused enormous damage in Pakistan, China and North Korea. Serious damage was caused to North Korean granary areas, including Huang Hai Namdo, Pukto, Hamgyong Pukto and Namdo in the Northern area.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Annual Activities Report
For the Beijing Olympics held in August 2008, the Chinese and North Korean authorities continued their strict crackdown on North Korean defectors in the border areas and in China. The crackdown was so strict that even the transportation of public supplies were mostly prohibited.
Nevertheless, the inflow of North Korean defectors into China has not stopped, although the scale of the inflow is smaller than that during the period from late 1990s to early 2000s. The Chinese government still arrests and repatriates North Korean refugees, knowing that these people will be severely punished if sent back to their own country.
International society still repeatedly protests the repatriations by the Chinese government. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea has not yet been allowed access to conduct a probe of human-rights conditions in North Korea.
However, as the abuse of human rights in North Korea have become more widely disclosed around the world, international pressures on the North Korean government have grown. For example, many nations have come to question the effectiveness of international food aid to North Korea and stopped responding to requests from the World Food Program (WFP). There has been a tug of war between North Korea and aiding nations, which have specifically stated that they would provide food aid on condition that the North Korean government allow them to establish monitoring systems to assure their food aid will be properly used.
Reports from LFNKR local staff
According to recent reports from local staff members working at LFNKR’s shelters in the border area and LFNKR local workers in North Korea, the aged and children are starving to death in a village area located three railway stations inland from Musan, North Hamgyong, and deaths from malnutrition and starvation are starting up again in Hamhun, South Hamgyong and Chonjin in North Hamgyong.
Even large, first-tier corporations employing 2,000 or more have had to suspend their operations because they cannot procure materials, meaning that they cannot provide their employees with food. LFNKR has handed food to those people who came to China intending to return to North Korea once they had food. During the past year, LFNKR has distributed more than 30 tons of food in the border area to these needy North Koreans.
Human Trafficking and Orphans with no Nationality
At least 60% of North Korean defectors are female, and most of them become victims of human trafficking. Many of them are sold as brides to farmers in inland China because the villages in inland China are suffering from a shortage of marriageable women. Since the Chinese government launched its reform and opening-up policy, many young Chinese women in villages have moved away to urban areas in China, the South China economic bloc, South Korea and Japan where they can earn good pay.
In the Yanbien Korean Autonomous Region, about 8,000 Korean Chinese have been flocking to South Korea each year to work away from home. To fill this void, the Han people have moved into the region from other provinces. The disappearance of the Korean Autonomous Region is considered only a matter of time.Many of the Chinese farmers to whom North Korean women are sold are incapable of making a living. Often they suffer from metal disorders, or have little sense of social responsibility. Hence, if their North Korea wives are repatriated, the Chinese husbands tend to abandon any children they have. This is why the number of children with no nationality is increasing yearly.
One of the major activities of LFNKR is to protect these abandoned children under its education sponsorship program. LFNKR is happy to see those foster children raised under the program and eventually resettled in South Korea, where they can enjoy satisfying lives, attend university or technical college, and happily marry.[Chronological list of major activities during the last fiscal year]
Summary of Major Activities
- Participated in Thai International Conference on North Korean Refugees and Human Rights in North Korea held on Sept. 17-21, 2007
- Helped Tokyo Bar Association with their research on human rights in North Korea (Sept. 19, 2007)
- Held discussions with Guard Division, Japan Coast Guard (Oct. 2, 2007)
- Participated in Global Festival held in Tokyo to publicize the North Korean refugee issue (Oct. 6-7, 2007)
- Initiated a rescue plan for North Korean defector, Ms. R, who contacted LFNKR requesting help (Nov. 2, 2007)
- Successfully protected North Korean defector, Ms. E (Nov. 8, 2007)
- Attended at the 50th anniversary of Arakawa No. 9 Junior High School where North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan attend night classes (Nov. 11, 2007)
- Participated in NGO conference during the North Korean Human Rights Abuse Awareness Week (Dec. 14, 2007)
- Participated in the conference held in Sendai (city in northern Japan) one of a series of events for the North Korean Human Rights Awareness Week (Dec. 16, 2007)
- Mr. Kato, executive director of LFNKR, spoke on the North Korean human rights issue as a guest speaker at Christian University in South Korea (Dec. 20, 2007)
- Interviewed by Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN Special Rapporteur on NK Human Rights (Jan. 30, 2008)
- LFNKR received the family of a North Korean defector, Mr. K, who safely arrived in Tokyo (Jan. 30, 2008)
- Mr. Kato was a guest speaker at the international scholarly conference on North Korean human rights hosted by Christian University in South Korea (March 20, 2008)
- Mr. Kato was a guest speaker, at a public meeting hosted by Kanagawa Branch, the National Association for Rescue of Japanese Abducted by North Korea (March 23, 2008)
- Demonstrated with banners and placards protesting the North Korean human rights issue at the Olympics torch relay in Nagano, Japan (Apr. 26, 2008)
- Held discussions with NK & Beyond Missions International, a British NGO (June 6, 2008)
- Met with Open Radio North Korea
- Investigated development of a safe southern rescue route
Securing safety and protection of North Korean refugees
LFNKR has maintained a low-profile policy as much as possible in rescuing and protecting North Korean refugees. During the past year, no NGO humanitarian aid workers involved in LFNKR rescue activities has been arrested or held.
Most of LFNKR’s shelters, except for access points in the border area, are located in mountains to avoid the strict crackdown. LFNKR has supplied a total of about 20 tons of rice to more than 700 North Korean defectors and supplied about 500 sets of winter clothing and 2,000 pairs of socks to North Korean defectors.
One of LFNKR’s plans to help North Korean refugees wishing to settle in China is to help them acquire calves, so that they can raise and sell for profit. This should help the refugees become financially independent. This plan has been implemented at a few places in Jilin Province. So far, the plan has gone forward smoothly.
LFNKR has provided five North Korean refugee families (12 people) with protection until they reached safe places, and also helped one family (3 persons) to settle in Japan. LFNKR has assisted about 30 North Korean refugees in settling in South Korea. Among them are daughters of Japanese wives and the children of ethnic Koreans who originally lived in Japan.
LFNKR distributed 350 family medical kits in North Korea. These medical kits were procured in China and Japan, and each kit includes pain killers, antiphlogistics, nutritional supplements, etc.
Educational Sponsorship Program
Currently, over 20 refugee orphans are protected under the LFNKR educational sponsorship program. Two new shelters have been added. The foster children under the program receive money to cover their living expenses and education expenses from LFNKR through its local staff responsible for the program. The foster parents are notified of how their foster children are doing by letters from the children or by LFNKR newsletters on an irregular basis.
Most of the foster children were born to Chinese men and North Korean women who were victims of human trafficking. These children have no “nationality” because the Chinese government continues to treat their mothers as illegal immigrants. Most of their fathers are incapable of making a living or are indifferent to raising children. Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities continue to arrest and repatriate their mothers, mothers who are trying to raise their children and therefore should be granted the legal right to stay in China.
It is a sad fact that the foster children are not allowed to have legitimate inhabitant registration certificates in China, so that cannot enter high schools or higher educational facilities, no matter how excellent their school record. Even if they try for a higher education, they are highly likely to be denied entry, and may even be arrested and repatriated. These children are abandoned not only by their parents but by the Chinese government as well. The number of such children now reaching school age continues to rise.
Assisting Settling in
LFNKR has worked together with other NGOs to help North Korean defectors reach safe places in third countries. LFNKR has helped a number of refugees settle in Japan when they have explicitly rdquested this by working together with related governmental divisions, NGOs, and the North Korean Refugee Support Center of the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan).
Among the North Korean defectors who have settled in Japan, those who are aged or suffer from chronic diseases receive welfare benefits, while most young defectors relatively quickly graduate from welfare and start leading independent lives.
Especially significant among the international lobbying activities were the field survey of North Korean refugees in Thailand and the meetings with the Thai National Human Rights Committee, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Chiangrai Immigration Bureau as well as police in the Thailand/Laos border area. We held discussions with them primarily on human rights and how to improve conditions at the overcrowded detention center.
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.
Speakers included: Willy Fautre (Human Rights without Frontiers, President); Vincent Brossel (Reporters without Borders); David Hawk (human rights investigator and advocate and author of “the Hidden Gulag”); Chuck Downs (US Committee for NK HR); and Hiroshi Kato (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees).
Text of Kato Hiroshi’s Speech
It is my privilege and honor to present this speech here at the North Korean Human Rights Campaign 2008
Our main purposes at Life Funds for North Korean Refugees are: first, to provide humanitarian aid and protect the human rights of North Korea defectors in China and Southeast Asia; and second, to reach out to people in North Korea with food and medicine.
Out of 100,000 North Korean refugees hiding out in Northeastern China, about 70-100 are under LFNKR’s protection as of July 2008.
In my opinion, the worst form of human rights violation is human trafficking. The number of human trafficking victims is not yet clearly known, but we estimate the number to be more than 70% of all defectors. An investigation conducted in the villages where our shelters are located showed that 10-20% of all villagers are North Korean women who have been sold to Chinese men in the village. Out of 60,000-70,000 women defectors, at least half are of childbearing age.
Babies between Han Chinese and ethnic Koreans will reach 30,000-35,000, most of whom are unregistered.
The youngest victim of human trafficking I have met was 8 years old at the time she was sold. She was brought up in an ethnic Korean family in Heilong City, Jilin Province, but was sold for 1,500 RMB to an ethnic Chinese man at the age of fourteen. She gave birth at the age of 19. After the baby was born, she was sold again by a broker to a different man, and unfortunately I do not know where she is now. Girls being sold by a broker after childbirth are now very common to see.
The price of women varies: usually 5,000-10,000 RMB (approximately $500-1,000 US dollars), for girls up to the age of 20; 3,000-5,000 RMB (or $300-500 US dollars), for up to the age of 30; 2,000-2,500 RMB ($200-250 USD) for up to the age of 40 with a child; and 500-1,000 RMB (or $50-100 US dollars) for children.
However, this year, the price has increased. A woman in her 20s is sold at the price of 20,000 RMB because the number of female North Korean defectors is decreasing. North Korean women seem hesitant to escape the country due to the crackdown operation for the security of the Beijing Olympic Games, as well as forced repatriation that entails serious threats to life upon being returned to North Korea.
The trafficking of North Korean women goes back to 1985 when it was not yet as systematic. It was mere match-making organized by a broker for a rural Chinese man who could not marry in an orthodox way. At that time, the Chinese government welcomed them, and there was neither arrest nor forced repatriation. (But this has now become an organized business-like activity.)
Young women from three provinces in Northeast China that were excluded from China’s open economy reform policy started to move to the Southern China Economic Zone, Japan and Korea to find work. As a result, the female population in these rural areas has decreased considerably. The demand for North Korean women naturally became greater. The role of young North Korean women in replacing ethnic Chinese women was considered significant. The brokers taking advantage of the situation started to appear during this time and it became more organized and business-like.
In the late 1990s, the food rationing system of North Korea collapsed.
North Koreans seeking food started to escape to China, and from 1997 there was a massive influx of people from North Korea into China.
Ethnic Koreans in China provided their starving brethren with food and clothing. However, due to some people trying to take advantage of the goodwill of these ethnic Chinese, and an increased crime rate, the Chinese government started to strengthen the policy concerning North Korea defectors.
In 2000, trafficking of North Korean women became more serious. More women had risked their lives escaping to China and fell into the clutches of brokers. The reports made by staff members in charge of our shelters outlines many of these cases.
The Chinese police, in secret communication with the North Korean National Security Agency, has prosecuted these women who are illegally married to rural Chinese men. If a woman who had a child at the time of marriage is prosecuted, then the child no longer receives any protection and becomes an orphan. The child usually survives by helping with farming, taking care of cows in return for room and board.
The children of North Korean women sold to Chinese men face a bleak future. An infant can choose neither his or her own country nor parents. A mother has no choice but to sell herself.
Because the stay of these women is illegal their children are also stateless. They are not Chinese and not North Koreans either. They have no right to education or anything else. They have no human rights and are staying illegally. These children are languishing in extreme poverty.
Early last year, the mother of 5-year-old Kim Yong-soon was arrested and repatriated to North Korea. Her crime? Leaving the starvation in North Korea and seeking survival in China.
But once this young woman had escaped North Korea six years ago, she was quickly sold into a forced marriage to a Chinese man, and just as quickly became pregnant. This is how she came to give birth to daughter Kim Yong-soon. The daughter, Yong-soon is now being supported under LFNKR’s foster parent program.
Our people, the LFNKR local staff in China, reported to us that it will be impossible for her to return again, since this is her third repatriation.
You know, you have to wonder why it is that Chinese government policies show no mercy to families. They callously tear them apart, separating mothers and children with no regard to human feeling.
In Yanji, Longjin, and other cities near the border between China and North Korea, the two countries have intensified their joint crackdown.
North Korean authorities provide Chinese security police with information on North Korean defectors, and the Chinese police follow up relentlessly. These police personnel are highly motivated — their government is paying high bounties. For each North Korean refugee they arrest, someone puts 2,000 RMB in their pocket. That bounty payment equals the monthly salary of most university graduates in China.
Over the years, human rights NGOs, International organizations and foreign governments have made numerous appeals. They have asked the government of China about this issue of North Korean defectors in China.
The Chinese government has ignored these appeals. In fact, they have never bothered to respond at all, and meanwhile they continue to forcibly return North Korean refugees to face the certainty of brutal persecution in North Korea. This is an obvious and blatant defiance of humanitarianism. The Chinese government clearly has no interest in what the international community thinks.
UNHCR’s appeals to the government of China are always ignored. Beijing has also ignored the appeals of the South Korean government on behalf of aid workers arrested for helping North Korean refugees.
The two lessons to be learned from past incidents are these: first, China responds only to a strong show of force. And second, the last thing that works with the Chinese government is an appeal to humanitarian consideration. China is submissive to the stronger, but shows no mercy to the weaker.
The North Korean defectors are in a position of strength when they are in the custody of foreign embassies and weak if they are outside the custody of a strong power.
I now publicly issue a call to all South Korean activists and North Korean defectors. From this moment forward, I urge you to direct your efforts to collecting evidence, testimony and information that provides full details for the international community in general and the UN Special Rapporteur, in particular.
In addition, we all should take this occasion to acknowledge, with profound thanks, all the efforts that have led to successfully exposing North Korean Crimes against Humanity. We can be proud of the widespread call for justice that was demonstrated by the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in the US Congress, the series of resolutions adopted by the UN, among many others, and the resolution on human rights in DPRK, which the UN General Assembly approved last December.
As a next step, I would like to see the UN Security Council raise the issue of creating an International human rights investigation team to be dispatched to North Korea. I do recognize, however, that the chances of that happening are quite slim with Russia and China on the Council. They are very likely to block any such efforts.
Since North Korea’s crimes are of the most serious nature, we cannot just stop here. I suggest that we approach the International Criminal Court by presenting hard evidence, verified information and solid proof. Obtaining this kind of evidence and proof from inside North Korea is definitely a realistic possibility because, in recent years, many North Korean officials have grown increasingly demoralized as they face mounting personal danger in the ongoing power struggles.
We should redouble our efforts now toward obtaining undeniable and credible information from inside North Korea — information that is so strong and so convincing that it must be taken to the International Criminal Court.
In closing my speech today, and with your permission, I wish to personally call upon the entire international community to intervene decisively in the North Korean situation. It is a matter of international responsibility — clearly so.
Let us, therefore, create a living reality that some day all innocent North Korean prisoners, as well as all South Korean and Japanese abductees, will know for a fact that they were never for a single moment forgotten by the people of the world.
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, NGO
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.
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.
Speech by Kato Hiroshi, Executive Director
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor for me to be here today and I would like to thank The Committee for the Bangkok International Conference for North Korean Human Rights for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees.
Street Child (Kot-Jebi) Tells His Story
Just as I was coming out of a North Korean restaurant, I noticed a small boy, who appeared to be a beggar, following me. I was in Yanbian on business, and it was May 15 of this year. The boy suddenly stepped in front of me and said, “I’m from North Korea. Please help me.”
This report is by Kim Hong-son, one of LFNKR’s local staff members. He writes:
In February of this year, I passed through the Chinese customs office at Kosong and headed for North Korean customs. Passing through Chinese customs took a mere 30 minutes, but on the North Korean side it took over three hours. The reason for this is the North Korean customs inspection process, which begins with a verification of relatives living in North Korea, and involves a full-body search in addition to an inspection of the goods being brought into the country.
Made Possible by 300,000 Yen in Donations
The operation to distribute emergency supplies in Hamgyong-bukto, North Korea was a success. Through one of our clandestine local networks, we were able to provide extremely needy people with a total of one ton of rice, as well as clothing and antibiotics. The value of all items supplied equaled 300,000 yen (about US$2,500). The extra supplies were financed by recent donations. Late November of last year, five members of LFNKR’s local group JYO entered Hoeryong-si, North Korea from China, carrying several boxes filled with winter clothing, antibiotics and penicillin.
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.
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.
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.
Kim Bong Soon’s Letter
Hello, I am Kim Bong Soon, the wife of Choi Yong-hun.
My husband was arrested by the Chinese police in January 2003 for helping North Korean refugees and was sent to prison for 5 years. Today, he remains confined in the Weifang Prison, Shandong Province, China after serving 46 months of a 60-month sentence. He suffers from worsening chronic diabetes, hypertension, and asthma because of the poor living conditions in the prison.
While the rest of the world’s attention is riveted on North Korea and its claims of a successful nuclear test, LFNKR would like to point again to the many North Korean refugees and their continuing need for help.
LFNKR, since its founding in 1998, has provided North Korean refugees with aid, specifically distributing food and clothing through local staff. For more information about LFNKR’s activities during 2006 and its plans for 2007, see these pages:
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.
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.