Category Archives: Starvation

Missiles fly; Citizens starve

Since January 2017, North Korea has already launched 11 missiles this year.  Most of the news about North Korea these days focuses almost exclusively on those missiles.  World media seem to forget about the majority of the people in North Korea, those who still suffer dire food shortages.

By mid-July 2017, North Korea had begun connecting high voltage power lines to the barbed wire fencing that runs along the Tumen and Yalu River. This is a move to further tighten their crackdown on people trying to escape into China.

For decades now, the entire nation of North Korea has been a huge prison.

Below are three news articles reminding us that in North Korea, people are suffering. Even the soldiers face long-term malnutrition and many people are shipped abroad to work as slaves, where they earn foreign currency, which is sent back to the regime.

Electrified fence – Asia Press

North Koreans working as slaves – Radio Free Asia

Soldiers suffering malnutrition – Asia Press

 

 

Emergency Aid Project to Send 10 Tons of Corn Noodles

Heaviest Rains in 40 Years Catastrophically Damage Grain Crops in North Korea

LFNKR local staff reports – the heaviest rains in 40 years have caused serious damage to grain producing areas in North Korea, including Hwanghae-do and Pyong-an Namdo. These two areas already suffered severe damage during the two previous years, and now they have been hit again. This, before they had a chance to recover from the devastation of last year and the year before.

Stateless Foster Children in China

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. 

China Sets Bounty on NK Refugees

Flyer announcing bounty on NK refugees

Will Pay up to 2,000 Yuan per 5 Captured

NKFC (North Korea Freedom Coalition) members, including LFNKR, have recently received information about the on-going crackdown by Chinese authorities. See a PDF copy of the Chinese language document, along with English and Korean translations.Chinese authorities recently released a police order along the NK-China border which sets specific prices for any criminal escapees (North Korean refugees) trying to get away from the starvation and madness so rampant in their own country.

LFNKR in Joint Protest of NK Nuclear Blast

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

Joint Protest Held in Tokyo

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

North Korea’s Latest Launch Condemned

North Korean launches Unha rocket

Squandering National Resources

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

10,000 Expected to Starve in NK Drought

2012 Brings Hwanghae’s Worst Drought in 60 Years

Field Report:  10,000 Expected to Starve

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

Flying Snack Cakes for Freedom

Choco Pies Fly Free

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

NK Defectors Tell About Death Camp 12

Crane torture

Camp 12 Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So

On February 5, LFNKR hosted a seminar during One World Festival, an annual event held in Osaka, Japan. For the seminar this year, LFNKR invited Mr. Sung-hun Kim, the chief of Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) and three North Korean defectors who have resettled in South Korea.  Each of the three defectors has experienced the nightmare of North Korea’s Camp 12 Chongo-ri Kyo Hwa So, a camp well known for its high death rate.

NK to Launch a Rocket Soon

Gwangmyunsung-3 Missile

Since its founding in 1998, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), a Japanese citizen’s group, has devoted itself to supplying food, clothing, and medical goods directly to starving North Korean people.

After nearly 14 years of continuing efforts, we still see no improvement in the food shortage, nor a reduction in human rights violations in North Korea. The outflow of people desperate enough to flee their fatherland for other countries has not abated.

Sending in the Choco Pies

North Koreans want Choco Pies

Help Send Choco Pies of Love for Valentine’s Day

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

NK People Uncertain Over New Leader’s Status

  

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

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

Outflow of NK Refugees Resumes

 

Burglaries Rise, Food Shortage Worsens

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

Rice Priced Out of Reach in NK

 

Price of rice skyrockets after Kim Jong-il dies

On Dec. 24th we received another call from one of our LFNKR staff members in the Rason Special Economic Zone in North Hamgyong. This member told us about the current food situation. The already tight food availability is worsening, which may result in many victims during the mourning period. In Rason, rice now costs 4,800 to 5,000 won per kilogram. However, the average monthly wage of a typical worker is only 2,000 to 3,000 won. Clearly, an entire kilogram of rice costs more than one worker can earn in a month. 

Mourn Not for Kim Jong-il

 

Mourn Instead for his Victims

On Dec. 28 in Pyongyang a funeral will be held for Kim Jong-il. As do most of those involved in the North Korean human rights issue, we at LFNKR strongly feel that this funeral should commemorate the victims of Kim Jong-il and his brutal regime. We call upon the world – mourn not for this dead dictator.

LFNKR Annual Report Released for 2011

Introduction

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

Rice Thieves Being Shot in NK

Rice, the staple food in NK, is in desperately short supply

The Proclamation of Penalties for Stealing Rice quoted below first appeared in the 2010 North Korean Human Rights White Paper, following its appearance that year in official Korean documents. Previously, the punishment for stealing grain had only been known from scattered defector testimony. Verification in the form of a proclamation from the North Korean security apparatus is a significant new development.

Current Consumer Prices in NK

 

North Korean Situation

It is believed that although virtually no one is currently dying of hunger in DPRK, many are bordering on the edge of starvation. Most people are managing to stay alive under the present circumstances, but of course it is impossible to predict what will happen in the future.

Famine and “Barley Mountain ” Prompt Increased Defections

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

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

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

Rising tensions along the China-North Korea border

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

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

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

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

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

Inspectors from the State Security Department and the Central Military Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifty thousand passes issued

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

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

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

Without support, North Koreans become refugees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top doctor hasn’t had rice for six months

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

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

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

Special Report by Kato Hiroshi
     Executive Director of LFNKR

 

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.

LFNKR Initiating Starvation Relief Campaign

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.

They Won’t Reap What They Sow

Hopeless Crops

One of LFNKR’s local staff members in China took this picture across the border on June 1, 2010.  It shows people planting rice seedlings in Namiyan, North Hamgyong, North Korea.  Their clothing indicates that they are not farmers but soldiers and urban women who have been assigned to the rice planting job.

Food Prices Out of Control in NK

Excerpt from LFNKR Internal Report  

The following is taken from an April 10, 2010 report from a local LFNKR staff member working in North Korea.  The report examines rising prices in the North Korean provinces of Chonjin, Musan, and Haesan during the 11 days from March 30th through April 10th.

To celebrate the 98th birthday of the late dictator Kim Il-sung (born April 15, 1912), the North Korean government distributed 7 kilograms of food to each person.  According to our worker, the local government in North Hamgyong Province had to pull stockpiled rice out of its second military warehouse.  This is unprecedented.  Food shortages are obviously critical now.  North Koreans are now whispering that the starvation of the late 90’s may be returning.

Insane price increases for food illustrate how desperately unstable the North Korean economy has become.  The day the LFNKR staff member checked food prices in Musan, for example, prices were wildly higher than they had been just four months earlier.

Specifically, wheat flour was now almost 25 times higher. Rice was nearly 8 times more expensive. And corn prices had multiplied almost 5 times during the four-month period.  The prices are rising not just day-to-day, but even by the hour. Those who don’t buy in the morning often have to pay more in the afternoon.  The extremely volatile food prices are a clear indicator of the chaos rampant in North Korea.  The failure of the recent currency reform adds to the people’s distrust of their own money.

Our local staff member reported that, amidst the currency reform failure, one bank president in Yanggang-do was recently executed for his failure to implement the reform.

The report also mentions that 5% of the soldiers of the sixth army corps located in North Hamgyong suffer from severe malnutrition and beriberi.  Soldiers with beriberi symptoms are sent home, since the army has no medical facilities to treat the disease.  Some have reportedly taken advantage of their temporary leave to escape into China.

Financial Crunch Also Hits LFNKR

Feeling the Financial Crisis

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

Recommendations for the Obama Administration

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

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

LFNKR’s Kato Addresses Int’l Conference

Kato Hiroshi Speaks to International Conference

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.

Thank you.

Update on NK-China Border Situation

Pass Permit Issuance Suspended in NK 

In April, the North Korean government stopped issuing pass permits for North Koreans to enter China. Because of this, many North Koreans who have entered China, seem to be staying there even after their pass permits expire. This means that they are now illegal immigrants – defectors – and if arrested, they will be repatriated. As a matter of fact, according to a local LFNKR staff member in China, many North Korean defectors have already been arrested and sent back.

NK Refugees Tell of Stricter Border Security

June 2008

Since its founding in 1998, LFNKR has been supplying food, clothing, and medicines to needy people in North Korea and to North Korean refugees who have fled into China.During the period from April 28 to May 10, 2008, LFNKR supplied through its local network one ton of rice and 80 first aid kits to needy people in North Korea and also to North Korean defectors hiding in China.

NK Eyewitnesses Describe Winter Nightmare

Conditions Along Chinese-NK Border as of January

According to Kim (40), who runs one of our organization’s shelters on the Chinese-North Korean border, 118 North Korean defectors sought shelter between November 18 and December 25, 2007. During the winter, food and winter clothing are the biggest problems for North Korean citizens. Most defectors are dressed lightly in summer wear and without socks. This is unbearable in the Yanbian region, when the Tumen River is already frozen and the temperature falls to -20C at night.

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. 

Appeal to National Human Rights Commission of Thailand

Presented on Behalf of North Korean Refugees Detained in Thailand

INTRODUCTION

We are a group of human rights organizations and activists based in Thailand, Japan, Korea and other countries. We have just attended the International Conference in Thailand, September 17-21, 2007, on the North Korean Human Rights Situation. The Conference has reviewed the situation of North Koreans in Thailand along with addressing other related issues.

I Was a Political Prisoner at Birth in North Korea

Shin Dong-hyuk describes his youth in a prison camp

My Family Background

My North Korean name is Shin In-kun (South Korean name: Shin Dong-hyuk). I was born on 19 November 1982. I was a political prisoner at birth in North Korea.

According to what I know from my father, Shin Kyong-sop, he was born in 1946 in the village of Yongjung-ni in Mundok District, South Pyongan Province, near Pyongyang, North Korea. He was the 11th of 12 brothers. It was in 1965, when he was only 19 years old, that great tragedy struck his family. 

Save North Korean Refugee Flooding Victims

Further Famine Expected

News media worldwide are reporting on the recent flooding in North Korea and the widespread damage it has caused. Effects from the flood have begun to seriously impact the area in China bordering North Korea, where many of LFNKR’s rescue activities are based. 

Street Beggar’s Ambition: Start a Business

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.”

2 Tons of Rice Distributed to Poor in Hamgyong

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.

LFNKR Expands its NK Food Supply Network

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.

Border Report – January 2006

Winter street in Yanji, China

Women Sold, Babies often Abandoned

The following report is by an LFNKR staff member who visited the border area of North Korea and China in January 2006. The Tumen River running along the border was completely frozen. Standing on the riverside on the China side we could see Namyang, North Hamgyong on the other side, in North Korea. There were lookout posts about every 100 meters. Clearly, the crackdown on North Koreans attempting to escape into China has been stepped up even further.

Daughter Pleads for Help Freeing Her Father

Grace Yoon works to free her father, Reverend Phillip J. Buck

Minister Held in Chinese Prison

Hello, my name is Grace Eunhae Yoon and I am from Seattle, Washington, United States.

It is my honor to be here and I am very thankful for this opportunity to introduce my father to you. I thank Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, its staffs, and Kato Hiroshi San for their support and assistance in every possible way during this conference.

Boy Spends Life in Hiding, Finally Shot to Death

Mid-March 2004 -- In his last hiding place. Chol-hun has grown into a young man. Three weeks later he was dead.

Chinese Guard Kills NK 17-Year-Old Refugee Right at Mongolian Border

Mid-March 2004 — In his last hiding place. Chol-hun had grown into a fine young man. Three weeks later he was dead. 

On April 20 this year, LFNKR received reports that a 20-year-old man was fatally shot when Chinese border guards interrupted an escape attempt by 24 North Korean defectors as they were crossing the border into Mongolia from Manzhouli, China.

UPDATE: Two Aid Workers Tried, Convicted

Is China Really a Part of the International Community?

On Dec. 11, 2003 a Chinese court utterly ignored pleas from the International community and its own country’s pledge to uphold the Convention on Refugees. That court sentenced aid worker Choi Yong-hun to 5 years in prison. At the same time, photojournalist Deok Jae-hyun received a sentence of 2 years in a Chinese prison. The crime of these two men? Helping their fellow man. Read the background details below.