Category Archives: Resettling in Japan

Why one young lady escaped from North Korea

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

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

LFNKR’s 19th ANNUAL MEETING HELD ON OCT. 10, 2016

Annual Meeting Held in Tokyo

A summary of LFNKR activities during fiscal 2015 (Sept. 1, 2015 to Aug. 31, 2016) and the plans for the next fiscal year were outlined at the annual meeting. 

Kato Pleased with Happily Resettled North Korean Families

 

It’s well worth it

Hiroshi Kato

Hiroshi Kato, the executive director of LFNKR, participated July 3 in the annual exchange party for NK refugees held in Osaka.  Joining the party were about 50 former North Korean defectors who have resettled in the Kansai region (south-western half of Japan, including Osaka).  Attending were three generations, ranging from babies under the age of one up to 70 years-old.

Kato was overwhelmed by their boundless energy.  They sang and danced to Karaoke without a break for three hours straight.  He was very impressed by their extremely good singing … and by their dancing, which surprise him. He saw waltzes and jitterbugging rather than more traditional Korean dances.

From Supported to Supporter

5 Years Later

By K. Matsubara (alias) – Former North Korean Refugee

A Korean proverb says that “mountains and rivers change in 10 years.”  It obviously means that 10 years is a long time and brings big changes.  Then, what changes have my husband and I experienced in the past 5 years since we finally entered Japan?

Actually, we have gone through many, many changes.  For a while after coming to Japan, everything seemed new to us and difficult to get used to.  But now, we can handle most things without asking for help.  Although we have not yet achieved our biggest goal, I feel that we have achieved great growth both spiritually and financially.  And we are now able to help other North Korean people needing assistance.

Price of Freedom Soaring

I Want to See my Daughters as Soon as Possible

By Pak Sung Hee (alias), a Former NK Refugee

I once lived in Chongjin, North Hamgyong.  From the 1990’s (the time of the “Arduous March”) through early 2000 we experienced severe starvation.  I realized that my whole family would starve to death if something didn’t change, so I crossed the Tumen River into China to bring back food.  I bitterly regret, however, that I was never able to make it back to Chongjin where my family was waiting for me.

My father is Japanese, and my mother was an ethnic Korean resident of Japan.  Years earlier my parents had believed the propaganda claiming that North Korea was a Paradise on Earth. So, together, they immigrated to North Korea.

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

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

NEWS100PhotoBack in April, LFNKR had a cherry blossom viewing party.  At this party were members of LFNKR and also some of the former North Korean defectors who have resettled here in Japan.  The following is a brief article we received from one of the North Korean participants.  It was she who prepared and brought the unique spicy North Korean “inari-sushi” (fried bean-curd stuffed with boiled rice).

She writes:

I was born in North Korea, and I was able to come to Japan, thanks to Japanese humanitarian aid. At that time I knew absolutely nothing about the cultures or traditions of any other country. 

From N.K. Refugee to Licensed Nurse in Japan

Near the end of March this year, we at LFNKR got some exciting news. Miss K.H., whom  we have mentioned here before (see links below), had just passed Japan’s very difficult National Nursing Exam, and she was writing to tell us of her experiences:

She says:

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

LFNKR Annual Meeting, Oct. 12, 2015

Tokyo the Site of 18th Annual Meeting

A report on LFNKR activities during the past year was presented at the Annual Meeting. Perhaps the single most important issue is how the past several years have brought significant changes to the conditions facing North Korean refugees. Part of the change is due to the drastically tightened crackdown along the China-North Korea border. The crackdown is particularly stringent on the North Korea side, making it increasingly difficult to escape from North Korea.

In fact, over the past two years, rescue operations for assisting North Korean defectors in reaching safe third countries have fallen to almost nothing. This is new to our organization. The focus of our activities, therefore, has already begun shifting away from rescue operations, although we still stand ready to assist any NK refugees wherever possible. Now the emphasis is increasingly on helping former defectors resettle in Japan and on generating publicity to help boost public awareness of the human rights abuses in North Korea. This includes the publication of books related to the human rights outrages in that country.

Among those attending the Annual Meeting were four former North Korean defectors, Mr. I.K, Miss K.H, Miss J.L, and Baby Sumi’s mother, who each presented updates on their life in Japan now.

Mr. I.K. and his family were the first North Korean family that LFNKR helped to escape and resettle in Japan (1999). He and his wife are now running a successful business, a thriving guest house, in Osaka.

Refer to previous article: Settling and Surviving in Japan.  

Miss K.H. said that she is studying very hard in preparation for the national nursing qualification exam coming in March.

Refer to previous article: Set a Goal and Tackle it for Best Results:

Miss J.L. is attending a dental hygienist college in Tokyo and also works as a part-time assistant at a dental office. She has had overcome hardships, including being arrested in Laos as she made her way to Japan. However, once in Japan, in barely two years she passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam, Level One. She has surprised us all, speaking almost perfect and fluent Japanese.

And baby Sumi’s mother showed us new pictures of Sumi, now 4 years old, dancing happily at her preschool. In addition to the new business, Sumi’s mother told us, she has also recently started a group to provide mutual aid among North Korean women who have resettled in Japan.

Please see Baby Sumi Celebrates First Birthday.

Or read Former NK Refugee Starts New Business

Listening to the speeches of these courageous people, we were deeply impressed by their great efforts. We are very proud of them and of all of those we have rescued.

One Volunteer’s Story

Ever wonder who does the behind-the-scenes work in an NGO like ours?

A while back Hiroshi Kato, who heads this organization, posted a call for volunteers – someone to help LFNKR with translation work. Since this NGO is made up almost exclusively of volunteers, and there’s always more to do than time available, we are always delighted to hear from those wanting to help.

One young lady in the US, a “Mrs M,” contacted us offering her assistance. Only thing was, she wasn’t sure her skills were good enough. We sent her a couple of short articles to try, and as it turns out, her skills were excellent. She’s been translating for us ever since.

And then the other day we wondered, would readers be interested in hearing how one volunteer started?

We thought that you, our readers, might indeed be interested, so here it is – Mrs M’s story:

“Blessing House” – Settling and surviving in Japan

First Japanese Entry Permit, First Japanese Guest House Permit

By Igawa Fukuko

After entering Japan, our family faced continuous hardship for one or two years.
Our family escaped from North Korea and were given entry into Japan in 2000 with absolutely no money or skills. We were anxious about what kind of life was waiting for us from here on. In any case, we felt at least secure that we probably would not starve to death.

Update – 3 Ladies Who Defected

 Steady Progress in 3 Careers

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

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

Set a Goal and Tackle it for Best Results

Former NK refugee aims at certified nurse

Here is an update from Miss K. H., the young North Korean defector who is now studying to become a nurse in Tokyo. Like Sumi’s mother (in the previous post), this young lady also reported on her current activities at the recent LFNKR annual meeting.

It will soon be 2 years since I entered the nursing school in April 2013.  Time is flying by as I scramble to keep up with the heavy curriculum schedule, which includes the weekly exams, the events and all the practical training. 

Former NK Refugee Starts New Business

Former NK refugee starts a new business

LFNKR has helped many North Korean refugees to escape and resettle in Japan. Here is one of those success stories. This young lady attended LFNKR’s recent annual meeting, where she caught us up on her current activities. This report is from the mother of Baby Sumi, now age two (check the links below for more details). Here is a summary of her presentation.

Joint Statement to Prime Minister Abe

Joint Statement from Five
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.

Doing Well in Nursing School

Former NK refugee loves nursing school

Nursing School, First Year Done


Update from former NK refugee

Miss K. H., one of the North Korean defectors we helped rescue four years ago, just sent us an update on her progress in nursing school. As you may recall from ourearlier article last year, she is a former North Korean defector who has resettled in Japan.

Baby Sumi Celebrates First Birthday

Baby Sumi's First Birthday

Report from Mother

Sumi, the baby born to our North Korean refugee parents in December of 2012, is growing and thriving wonderfully. Recently, a photo and email arrived at our LFNKR offices reporting on Sumi’s first birthday celebration.

Changed Life – Unchanged Heart

By Keiko Kawai

(name changed for security)

Fifteen years ago I left my parents, brothers and friends behind and set out for Japan, a country whose ways I knew nothing about. This move has brought dramatic changes to my life; meanwhile my heart – my determination and my commitment to a better life – has never wavered.

Former NK Refugee in Nursing School

Studying Hard Every Day: 

KH, who enrolled in nursing school in April, is about to start her summer vacation. It has been less than 5 years since KH came to Japan from North Korea. First she enrolled in, then graduated from, evening middle school. Next, she took enough units at the municipal high school to earn her high school graduation certificate in less than two years. This spring, she applied to take the entrance examination for a well-known nursing school. Competing against native Japanese high school students under the exact same conditions, she passed an exam for which only about 1 in 7 gains admission.

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. 

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.

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 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.

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.

Toothbrushes to Tsunami Victims

North Korean defector donated 20,000 toothbrushes to tsunami victims

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.

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.

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.

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.

Japanese Wives Victimized By Brokers

Brokers ‘help’ through threats, intimidation

Ms. Hiroko Saito, the Japan-born wife of a North Korean, was arrested in Japan on March 8 this year by Osaka Prefectural police. The woman, who had earlier escaped from North Korea and made her way to Japan, was arrested together with a Chinese couple on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control Act.  She is suspected of falsely stating that the Chinese couple are relatives so that they could enter Japan illegally.

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.

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

Report on LFNKR Activities in FY 2007-2008

Annual Activities Report

Introduction

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

  1. Participated in Thai International Conference on North Korean Refugees and Human Rights in North Korea held on Sept. 17-21, 2007
  2. Helped Tokyo Bar Association with their research on human rights in North Korea (Sept. 19, 2007)
  3. Held discussions with Guard Division, Japan Coast Guard (Oct. 2, 2007)
  4. Participated in Global Festival held in Tokyo to publicize the North Korean refugee issue (Oct. 6-7, 2007)
  5. Initiated a rescue plan for North Korean defector, Ms. R, who contacted LFNKR requesting help (Nov. 2, 2007)
  6. Successfully protected North Korean defector, Ms. E (Nov. 8, 2007)
  7. 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)
  8. Participated in NGO conference during the North Korean Human Rights Abuse Awareness Week (Dec. 14, 2007)
  9. 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)
  10. 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)
  11. Interviewed by Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN Special Rapporteur on NK Human Rights (Jan. 30, 2008)
  12. LFNKR received the family of a North Korean defector, Mr. K, who safely arrived in Tokyo (Jan. 30, 2008)
  13. 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)
  14. 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)
  15. Demonstrated with banners and placards protesting the North Korean human rights issue at the Olympics torch relay in Nagano, Japan (Apr. 26, 2008)
  16. Held discussions with NK & Beyond Missions International, a British NGO (June 6, 2008)
  17. Met with Open Radio North Korea
  18. 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.

Medical Aid

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.

International lobbying

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.

Interview with a Former NK Refugee

His Dream Is to Own a Yakitori Restaurant
~ Kim Chun Gun, NK refugee ~

As part of its activities, LFNKR supports resettlement of North Koreans in Japan after helping them safely reach this country. Here is the first chapter of a series of true stories relating the experiences of former North Korean refugees working to start a new life in Japan.

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.

NK Defector Escapes China after 14 Years

Mother Was Japanese

The following is the true story of a daughter born in North Korea to an ethnic Korean father from Japan and a Japanese mother. Her parents had married in Japan, then moved to North Korea where the daughter was born. Neither the Japanese mother nor her daughter ever reached Japan. Would things have been different if they were Labor Party members?

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.

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.

Two Former NK Refugees Now Happily Wed

By Midori Yotsuya, LFNKR Member

It was Aug. 30, just after the 4th General Meeting in Seoul of IPCNKR (International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights). We headed to a small hotel to meet some of the foster children that LFNKR had formerly supported under our education sponsorship plan. They had all lived together like a family for several years at the same LFNKR shelter in China after fleeing from North Korea. Some of them are now young adults in their early twenties.

Outline of North Korean Human Rights Act

I. Aims

This law, building upon the “Resolution on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)” passed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16th 2005, and taking into consideration the human rights violations committed by North Korea, which are of pressing importance to Japan, including abductions, which require the cooperation of the international community to resolve, while at the same time recognizing the importance of increasing public awareness of North Korean human rights issues, aims to clarify the North Korean human rights situation and deter human rights abuses in cooperation with the international community.

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. 

LFNKR Exhibits at NGO Festival in Osaka

LFNKR booth at One World Festival

LFNKR’s Booth at One World Festival

More than 100 NGOs and NPOs in Japan joined the One World Festival held for two days at Osaka International Communications Center (Feb. 3rd and 4th). Many groups participated in the event under the theme “Bringing the world closer through education, interaction and mutual assistance.” The groups are working to help resolve today’s global issues of environmental destruction, poverty, repression of human rights, ethnic conflict, and refugees. Approximately 12,600 guests visited the exhibition during the 2-day event.

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.

North Korea Calls Japanese NGOs Kidnappers

NGO Members Accused of Abduction

The people of Japan were amazed February 7 when television and newspapers announced that North Korea had accused Kato Hiroshi and 6 other Japanese NGO members of abducting North Korea citizens. Kato is Secretary-General of our NGO, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR). The accusations came during the 3-day bilateral talks with Japan that, it was hoped, would help to resolve the ongoing dispute over Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents during the last three decades. The talks were held in Beijing.

Refugee Rescue Activities – 2005

Report Submitted by By Kato Hiroshi, Secretary-General, LFNKR

Here is the script of the speech I presented at the second International Conference on NK Human Rights “The Seoul Summit, Promoting Human Rights in North Korea,” held on Dec. 8-10, 2005 at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul, Korea.

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.