Three orphans being held in a jail in Laos

These three orphans managed to escape from North Korea, make their way through China, and were then arrested by Lao police. Here, they await processing before release to South Korean authorities.

Two foster children play in one of our shelters

These two orphans can finally relax and enjoy being off the streets and receiving an education. Each LFNKR member may sponsor an orphan or abandoned child being cared for in one or another of our shelters, sending financial help, encouragement and support.

A traditonal cherry blossom viewing party

North Korean refugees, now resettled in Japan, get together with LFNKR members to celebrate the coming of cherry blossoms and the first hint of spring in Tokyo.

Tokyo Bar Association Recognizes LFNKR

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees was awarded the Human Rights Prize by the Tokyo Bar Association

Former North Korean refugees wed

A refugee couple, one a former foster child and the other a recent defector from North Korea, have married. They invited Mr Kato and Ms Watanabe of LFNKR to stand in as parents.

13 year-old street child with severe burns

LFNKR, working jointly with a South Korean NGO, helped this kot-jebi (street child) receive urgently needed medical treatment after he lost both feet to the combined effects of frostbite and severe burns.

Former NK Defector Speaks at One World Festival

Refugee Tells Her Story

Koh Jeong Mee talks about tortures she has experienced.

Koh Jeong Mee talks about tortures she has experienced.

On Feb. sixth and seventh LFNKR participated in the One World Festival held in Osaka, Japan to help boost the public’s awareness of the many human rights abuses that continue in North Korea.

At the yearly One World Festival, NGO/NPOs, international institutions, local administration and companies involved in international cooperation gather together to tell about their activities, and to hold symposia and panel discussions on such issues as peace, human rights and the environment.

The following is a brief summary of the report prepared by Mr. K.G., a member of LFNKR. It describes the testimony presented by Ms. Koh Jeong Mee, a former NK defector.

Update on Our Five-Year-Old Orphan

Settling in

When the small boy arrived at the orphanage, staff members decided to call him “Kim Chol.”  Chol’s nightmare began back in October of last year. The Chinese police had discovered that his parents were North Korean defectors, so they arrested the two and handed them over to North Korean security officers for repatriation, but the five-year-old was left to fend for himself.  See our earlier report on Chol

Still more proof of outrageous crimes against humanity

North Korea"s latest missile launchFollowing January’s fourth nuclear test, North Korea launched yet another missile on Feb. 7 despite  strong and repeated criticism by the international community.

According to South Korean government estimates, the money spent by the North Korean government on the development of nuclear missiles totals somewhere between 2.8 and 3.2 billion US dollars.  This much money would buy 9,330,000 to 10,660,000 tons of corn, enough to feed every person in North Korea for 31 to 36 months.

Meanwhile, North Korea still depends on food aid from other countries, including Russia and China.

These facts demonstrate the magnitude of the North Korean government’s crimes against humanity.  The government of that country should, by rights, be standing trial before the International Criminal Court.

URGENT APPEAL

On the Human Rights Situation in North Korea

February 6, 2016

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January of this year despite the suffering of its people. Although North Korea claims that it was a hydrogen bomb, questions remain due to the nature of the seismic activity associated with the blast.

The North Korean government announced that the hydrogen bomb test “firmly protects the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the nation…and reliably safeguards the peace on the Korean Peninsula and regional security” and even now is going ahead with missile launches.

Terror in a Solitary Confinement Cell

The MC's height is 165cm (5.5ft). This illustrates the small size of the cell.

The MC’s height is 165cm (5.5ft). This illustrates the small size of the cell.

LFNKR On Dec. 5, jointly hosted a seminar as one of the events held during the first week of December to help promote public awareness of the North Korean human rights issue. The seminar was titled “Terror of Whistle Blowers in a Solitary Confinement Cell.”  To emphasize what it was really like, LFNKR specially created two full-size punishment cells not just for display but also to give participants the experience of being in the cages.

We invited Mr. Jeong Kwang-il, who has experienced being locked up in one of the punishment cells,  to talk about the confinement and one of the tortures called “pigeon torture.” In the pigeon torture, a person’s hands are tied behind their back and handcuffed so that they can neither stand nor sit.

Jeong Kwang-il explains the "pigeon torture"

Mr. Jeong  explains excruciating postures in the cage

Mr. Jeong Kwang-il is Director of No Chains for North Korea and the Director of Human Rights Investigations for North Korea Watch.  He was confined in Yodok Concentration Camp,  one of North Korea’s most notorious camps.

Read about his experiences in Yodok:

Many North Koreans are tortured and sent to the concentration camps without trial, just as Mr. Jeong was.

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

From Hiroshi Kato, Executive Director,
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees

 Wishing all of you health and prosperity in the New Year 

It appears that North Korea has succeeded in establishing a three-generation political dynasty. However, the UN has passed resolutions condemning the North’s human rights abuses, calling them grave, widespread, systematic abuses that amount to crimes against humanity. The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution critical of the DPRK with the support of 119 countries.

5-year-old Boy Enters LFNKR Orphanage

Rapidly approaching are the Christmas and New Year holidays – a perfect time for gift-giving. Perhaps you’ve been thinking of donating to a worthy charity. If so, may we suggest a very special group of orphans; abandoned children born to North Korean defectors in China.

The most recent child to come to our orphanage arrived just two months ago. Here is his story.

It was October 4, 2015, a Sunday, when, without announcement or appointment a fiftyish-looking man just showed up at our orphanage in China. With him was a young boy.

LFNKR Annual Meeting, Oct. 12, 2015

Tokyo the Site of 18th Annual Meeting

A report on LFNKR activities during the past year was presented at the Annual Meeting. Perhaps the single most important issue is how the past several years have brought significant changes to the conditions facing North Korean refugees. Part of the change is due to the drastically tightened crackdown along the China-North Korea border. The crackdown is particularly stringent on the North Korea side, making it increasingly difficult to escape from North Korea.

In fact, over the past two years, rescue operations for assisting North Korean defectors in reaching safe third countries have fallen to almost nothing. This is new to our organization. The focus of our activities, therefore, has already begun shifting away from rescue operations, although we still stand ready to assist any NK refugees wherever possible. Now the emphasis is increasingly on helping former defectors resettle in Japan and on generating publicity to help boost public awareness of the human rights abuses in North Korea. This includes the publication of books related to the human rights outrages in that country.

Among those attending the Annual Meeting were four former North Korean defectors, Mr. I.K, Miss K.H, Miss J.L, and Baby Sumi’s mother, who each presented updates on their life in Japan now.

Mr. I.K. and his family were the first North Korean family that LFNKR helped to escape and resettle in Japan (1999). He and his wife are now running a successful business, a thriving guest house, in Osaka.

Refer to previous article: Settling and Surviving in Japan.  

Miss K.H. said that she is studying very hard in preparation for the national nursing qualification exam coming in March.

Refer to previous article: Set a Goal and Tackle it for Best Results:

Miss J.L. is attending a dental hygienist college in Tokyo and also works as a part-time assistant at a dental office. She has had overcome hardships, including being arrested in Laos as she made her way to Japan. However, once in Japan, in barely two years she passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam, Level One. She has surprised us all, speaking almost perfect and fluent Japanese.

And baby Sumi’s mother showed us new pictures of Sumi, now 4 years old, dancing happily at her preschool. In addition to the new business, Sumi’s mother told us, she has also recently started a group to provide mutual aid among North Korean women who have resettled in Japan.

Please see Baby Sumi Celebrates First Birthday.

Or read Former NK Refugee Starts New Business

Listening to the speeches of these courageous people, we were deeply impressed by their great efforts. We are very proud of them and of all of those we have rescued.