Day Dedicated to Saving North Korean Refugees

September 22 was World “Save North Korean Refugees” Day

LFNKR sent out Letters of Petition to the Chinese embassy and all the consulates in Japan, urging China’s president Xi Jinping to provide to North Korea refugees who escape into China fair treatment according to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a document which China signed and ratified on September 24, 1982.

Even as the situation for North Korean refugees worsens, the Chinese authorities continue to work closely with the North Korea security forces to arrest and forcibly send back all North Korean refugees.  This is a violation of international law as set forth in the refugee convention.

The international community must not stop urging the Chinese government to cease this illegal repatriation of North Korean refugees.

Below is the text of the Letter of Petition that was sent.


Save North Korean Refugees Day 2017 


September 22, 2017

His Excellency Xi Jinping
President, People’s Republic of China
c/o His Excellency Mr. Cheng Yonghua
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3-4-33 Moto-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Dear Mr. President:

Our NGO, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), is a Tokyo-based NGO founded in 1998.  We are a humanitarian/human rights citizen group dedicated to helping North Korean refugees.  LFNKR has so far helped more than 200 North Korean refugees reach safe destinations where they have been able to start new lives.

On September 24, 1982, the People’s Republic of China signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. By signing this agreement the PRC agreed to share international concerns and protocols for refugees.   As you know, the people in North Korea have been suffering unspeakable atrocities and crimes against humanity for so long, leading many to flee the country and become refugees.   The UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK (COI) concluded in February 2014 in describing the Kim regime: “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

We are appealing to you as China’s leader with a request which we believe will help the suffering North Korean people.  We ask you to consider the plight of those refugees coming into China from North Korea, to provide them safe passage to a third country, and to cease returning them to North Korea.  Those returned under your current policies face certain torture, imprisonment and even public execution.

We respect China’s concerns about its border, and the influx of refugees illegally crossing that border fleeing persecution and deprivation in North Korea.  As more and more nations become aware of this difficult situation, it is important for these nations to work with your government to help resolve this refugee crisis in a way that fulfils the goals of the Convention and Protocol.   Unlike any other refugee crisis in the world, North Korean refugees have a place to go for immediate resettlement as citizens of South Korea under Articles 2 and 3 of the Republic of Korea Constitution.  In addition to South Korea, other countries, including Japan, have willingly resettled these refugees.

North Korean refugees need not be a burden and concern for China.  While The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will help China quickly and safely resettle these refugees, we are also asking the Japanese government to do more to support their resettlement.  We believe working together with the international community, and the UNHCR, China can resolve this crisis quickly, safely, and according to international law.

We look forward to your response to our requests and thank you for your consideration.


Hiroshi Kato, Executive Director
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees