NGOs, Lawmakers Receive Update on LFNKR Activities

China Claims 62 NK Defectors Not Repatriated Yet 

Beijing officials are denying media reports that they repatriated 62 North Korean defectors. South Korea’s Joong Ang Daily stated on Nov. 12 that China is denying earlier news reports of returning the 62 to North Korea. Authorities in Beijing are reportedly claiming that the defectors are still undergoing processing prior to repatriation at a detention center near the border with North Korea. 

Our group, LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees), while visiting Seoul, South Korea to participate in the North Korea Holocaust Exhibition (Nov. 8-10) received news on the morning of Nov. 9, that the 62 defectors had just been repatriated.

Our group, along with a number of other activists, hurried to the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to protest the action. (For photos see link below)

It is widely recognized in international society that North Koreans fleeing into China qualify as refugees, with full rights to protection. Continuing to arrest and repatriate North Korean refugees can only tarnish further the reputation of China as host of the 2008 Olympic Games.

Twelve members of our LFNKR group were in Seoul to attend the opening ceremony of the NK Holocaust Exhibition. Two Japanese lawmakers, Masaharu Nakagawa and Shu Watanabe also attended. (Photo link below.)

During our two days in Seoul, we visited more than 60 Grand National Party (GNP) members of the Korean National Assembly. We sought their support for NK refugees and their help in gaining the immediate release of Mr. Choi Yong-hun, who has now served 22 months of a 5-year sentence for assisting NK defectors.

(Below is a link to the text of the postcard we asked the assembly persons and participants to sign. The postcard was addressed to the Chinese ambassador to the Republic of Korea.)

Postcard link:
Photo link: 


6 Foster Children Thriving Now in South Korea

During our stay in Seoul, we also met six of our North Korean foster children, whom we helped escape from China.

LFNKR began a foster parent program in 1998, which allowed us to take North Korean children, many of them orphans, into local shelters and send them to local schools in China where they could receive a minimum education.

These six children especially wished to continue their studies, so LFNKR decided to help them move to South Korea where they could find greater opportunities for higher education.

Meeting these children in Seoul was exciting. The foster parents from LFNKR were delighted to see that all the children are adapting well to the new environment, although they are still smaller than average South Korean youngsters because of extreme malnutrition during crucial growth years.

In just a few months, they have already taken to the fashions of South Korea, and their eyes now glow with hope.

Three of them are studying to enter university, and two others are attending computer school. The sixth child, who has not yet decided on a school, visited a candidate school with LFNKR members, where they had a school lunch with the children.

(No photos of these children because of the need to protect their security)


3 Survivors of the Yantai Boat People Incident Say China Lied

Another important meeting: 3 North Korean participants in the Yantai Boat People incident (January 2003), were repatriated, then escaped once again, this time successfully reaching South Korea. LFNKR videotaped the interview with these witnesses and sent the videotape to UN High Commissioner of Refugees, Ruud Lubbers to prove irrefutably that those 31 defectors truly were sent back to North Korea despite China’s denials. The current whereabouts and situation of the remaining repatriated North Koreans remains a great concern.

A bit of background:
The 3 who re-escaped are a father, age 44, who is currently attending a technical training center, his 18-year-old daughter, who is enrolled in remedial school to catch up on the education she missed while hiding in China, and a young man, 22, who is now working at a scrap metal plant.

Although they live two hours from Seoul by train, when they learned that LFNKR members would be arriving, they were eager to meet and help with our activities in Korea.

Warm regards from Japan,
Hiroshi Kato, secretary general
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101 Nishi Kata Hyteru
2-2-8 Nishi Kata, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo, Japan 113-0024
Tel / Fax +81-3-3815-8127