Open Letter to China's Hu Jintao
April 16, 2003
Open Letter to President Hu Jintao, People's Republic of China
There are doubts regarding the report supplied by the
Chinese government in reply to an inquiry about refugees
from the Korean government. This is a critical issue from
both humanitarian and human rights standpoints.
We of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), are
convinced that "the facts" as reported by the Chinese
government are false. In our search for truth in this
matter, we are issuing this open letter to the Chinese
On April 9, Moon Kan-hyuen, a journalist with the Yonhap
News Agency, reported that the International Trade
Department of the South Korean Foreign Ministry (SKFM) had
disagreed with Japanese news reports. SKFM claimed it was
untrue that "the thirty North Korean refugees arrested
during the 'Boat People' incident in January have been
repatriated to North Korea," as reported in the Japanese
Through the South Korean Embassy in China, SKFM had, on the
9th, asked the Chinese Foreign Ministry (CFM) to check the
accuracy of the report. They also repeated the view of
their government regarding the handling of the defectors.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry announced that Chinese
Foreign Ministry had checked with related agencies on the
9th, as requested, and officially issued confirmation that
the Japanese media reports had no basis in fact.
SKFM added that, according to Chinese reports, 18 of the 30
boat people arrested in Yantai were North Koreans, 9 were
Chinese, and two were South Koreans (Seok Jae hyum and Choi
The South Korean government emphasized that they intended to
maintain their stance and that they planned to again request
cooperation at the Chinese and South Korean Diplomatic
Director-General Meeting to be held on the 10th.
We, therefore, demand answers to the following two simple
QUESTION 1: China insists that they have not repatriated the
19 North Korean refugees arrested during the Boat People
incident. If this is true, where are those 19 people now
The LFNKR has received the following information from a
local reliable source:
Kim Un Kum (73), arrested together with the other North
Korean refugees in Yantai, Shandong Province by the Yantai
border guards in January, was repatriated from Dandong in
China to Sinuiju in North Korea on January 25 by the Chinese
Following the 15-day interrogation at the temporary
detention center in Sinuiju, Kim Un Kum was sent to the
temporary detention center in Onsong, Hangyongbukuto, her
home before escaping from North Korea.
Kim Un Kum was in such severe pain that she was unable to
eat food and died on February 12, the day following her
arrival at the temporary detention center in Onsong.
On January 23, the female returnee to North Korea from
Japan, Ko Jong Mi (44) and her daughter (22) gave themselves
up to the Yantai border guard station, believing that Japan,
the land of her birth, and South Korea, the homeland of her
parents, would surely help them.
On the 25th, Ko Jong Mi, in deep despair, tried to injure
herself by swallowing her rings and buttons. She did this,
hoping to avoid repatriation, while being transported by bus
from Dalian to the Dandong border guard station located on
the bank opposite Sinuiju, North Korea. The escort guards
from Yantai completely ignored her, even though she was in
great agony. They handed her over to the North Korean
authorities who were waiting in Dandong, together with other
North Korean refugees.
Based on the above two reports, it is obvious that at least
three North Korean refugees are no longer in China.
QUESTION 2. If the Chinese government insists that these
reports of repatriation are untrue, then where exactly are
these three people now?
The Chinese government has a clear obligation to provide
answers to these two straightforward questions for LFNKR and
for the international community.
We have already submitted to the UNHCR headquarters and
offices the petitions for refugee status for the 32 boat
people arrested in Yantai. We remind all parties concerned
that we have the data on each of these persons.
The following is the data on the three North Korean refugees
whom the Chinese government insists are still in China:
- Name: Ko Jong Mi (female)
Date of Birth: Sept. 23, 1960
Place of Birth: Japan, Osaka, Ikunoku, Tennoji
- Name: Lee Yu Son (female)
Date of Birth: Sept. 21, 1982
Place of Birth: DPRK Pyon an Puk Do Shin Ij Yu City, Nam Son dong
- Name: Kim Un Kum (female)
Date of Birth: June 25, 1931
Place of Birth: DPRK Han Gyong Puk Do Myon Chon Kun
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0024