Joint NGO-Lawmaker Conference on NK Refugees

Three Days in Tokyo:  July 30 ~ August 1, 2005

The Conference, which drew NGOs and activists from around the world, began with two days of presentations and information on North Korean refugees, abductees and humanitarian aid workers detained in China. The conference culminated on the third day with The Second General Meeting of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR).

The IPCNKR meeting attracted more than 40 lawmakers from Mongolia, South Korea, the USA and Japan.
List of Parliamentary participants

In addition, 13 NGOs sent more than 70 members from Burma, the USA, South Korea and Japan.
List of NGO participants

Highlights and links to photos of the event are below.  

July 30

At the meeting hosted by the Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (a Japanese NGO), a number of humanitarian aid workers and three North Korean defectors spoke.

Grace Yoon told how her father, a 68-year-old minister, is being held in a Chinese prison for helping North Koreans in China.
Grace Yoon’s speech
Information on Grace’s Father

Defectors related their true experiences. Transcripts of their speeches are included below. (Warning: if you are squeamish or easily offended by graphic descriptions of cruelty, please do not read these.)
Testimony 1 – Political Prisoners Dismembered
Testimony 2 – Through Hell with My 2 Little Girls

In the evening of the first day, LFNKR hosted a meeting for three of its former foster children. The youngsters talked about their experiences in North Korea and China. We were overwhelmed by the large number of journalists already at the venue and waiting for us.

Asahi Television, a major Japanese broadcaster, later aired a 16-minute segment featuring Gwang Ryon Lee, one of the foster children. Information on the 3 foster children

July 31

LFNKR hosted a meeting to screen the just-finished Japanese version of Seoul Train, a one-hour documentary on North Korean refugees that has been garnering top awards from film festivals around the world.
Seoul Train movie
Attempts to suppress the Seoul Train movie

Following the screening, a spirited Q&A session continued for more than two hours.

August 1

In the morning session, representatives of participating NGOs spoke.
List of NGOs

A prominent participant during the three days was Tim Peters, founder of Helping Hands Korea. On the third day he addressed the lawmakers and NGO representatives. Peters gave an overview of current difficulties and challenges on the ground, and offered practical suggestions and possible courses of action for the legislators present.
Transcript of Tim Peters’ Speech
Website of Helping Hands Korea

Grace Yoon spoke again, detailing her father’s detention in China.
Transcript of Grace Yoon’s speech
Information on Grace’s Father

LFNKR presented its resolution.
Text of LFNKR resolution  

A joint resolution was also approved by the member NGOs
Text of joint resolution    

Petitions were circulated urging the immediate release of two South Korean aid workers now being held in Chinese prisons. All attending lawmakers and NGO members signed the two petitions.
Petition to free Choi Yong-hun
Petition to free An Chung Hak

The afternoon session began amid much tighter security, when the US Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Dennis Hastert appeared at the IPCNKR conference.

The group of parliamentarians issued both an Action Program and a Joint Statement calling for the advance of universal human rights in North East Asia and rights of North Korean refugees.
IPCNKR Joint Statement
IPCKNR Action Program 

The final feature of the afternoon session was a second screening of Seoul Train created by Jim Butterworth, with full Japanese subtitles translated by LFNKR.

The screening was followed by a speech from Jim Butterworth, the producer and director of “Seoul Train.”
Text of Jim Butterworth’s speech

Concluding the three-day event, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at 6:30 PM, hosted a buffet party for all participants.


As you may have noticed from this brief report, the conference saw a number of important new forward steps in international recognition of the North Korean refugee issue.

Kato Hiroshi
Secretary General
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees