Report on LFNKR Activities in FY 2006

Annual Activities Report

It is now obvious that North Korean defectors are being widely recognized and accepted as a legitimate issue by the international community. According to the resolution unanimously passed by the UN General Assembly last December, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea has been urging the North Korean government to correct its serious infringement of human rights and to allow the rapporteur entry into the country to investigate human rights there.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government still holds to its official position that there are no North Korean refugees in China and that all North Korean defectors in China are nothing more than illegal immigrants. The Chinese authorities are still arresting these people and forcibly returning them to North Korea where they are subjected to severe punishment, including public execution in some cases.

LFNKR is now observing that North Koreans who flee into China are spreading into more widespread areas. In addition to such big cities as Yanji, Changchun, Jilin, Harbin, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Canton, and Hangzhou, defectors are now being found in other areas. These include not only the three northeast provinces, but six others as well: Shandong province, Zhejiang province, Hebei province, Henan province, Neimenggu province, and Yunnan province.

LFNKR estimates that North Korean defectors currently in China now number over 100,000. Our most conservative estimates suggest that women account for 60 percent of the total. The human trafficking business between China and North Korea is such a thriving industry that any female North Korean defector who does not fall victim to human traffickers is an exception. Since North Korean defectors are “illegal immigrants,” fly-by-night brokers victimize North Korean women with pleasant promises for a safe place or a job. The true aim of such brokers, however, is to cheat the women of any money they have, then sell them. It is important to note that victims of the human trafficking cannot sue for redress since they are “illegal immigrants.” It is common to see these victims being sold and resold, and in many cases, deliberately impregnated so that the babies can also be sold. This is a cattle business.

By the end of June 2007, more than 11,000 North Korean defectors had escaped from China and reached South Korea via third countries. More than 1,000 reached South Korea during the first half of 2007 alone. Of these defectors, about one-third used routes that passed through Laos, Burma and Thailand. During 2007, the South Korean government is expected to receive and protect 2,000 more North Koreans.

Although the Japanese government has not officially disclosed any specific number, LFNKR estimates that about 170 North Korean defectors have settled in Japan since 1998.

The US government has accepted 31 North Korean defectors since the North Korean Human Rights Act was established in 2004. Those 31 defectors settled in California. By the end of 2007, 20 more are expected to arrive in the US.

During the last fiscal year, LFNKR helped xx (two-digit) North Korean refugees settle in third countries, while we helped x (one-digit) refugees settle in Japan.

Summary of Major Activities
1. Rescue activities for North Korean refugees and humanitarian aid workers, including publicity to raise public awareness
A. Sept.-Oct. 2006: Investigated the human trafficking of children.
B. Sept. 25-28, 2006: Attended the international conference hosted by the Korean-American Christian Association.
C. Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2006: Set up the LFNKR Booth at the Global Festival held in Tokyo.
D. Oct. 11: Participated in a talk show and the screening of “Seoul Train” hosted by LiNK at Blue Wave Inn in Tokyo.
E. Oct. 23: Presented a proposal to Kanagawa Prefectural Government and Yokohama City on the abductees issue and the settlement of North Korean refugees in Japan. The proposal was prepared jointly with the Kanagawa Branch of the National Association for Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea.
F. Oct. 24: Submitted a request for enacting the Japanese version of the North Korean Human Rights Law to Ichiro Aizawa, Committee Chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party, and Hiroshi Nakai, Chairperson of the Commission on Countermeasures against Abduction, of the Democratic Party.
G. Nov. 2, 2006: Presented a speech on North Korean human rights at Kawahito (Lawyers for Human Rights) lecture meeting, with testimony of two North Korean defectors.
H. Nov. 17, 2006: Helped Ms. Sandra Fahy carry out human rights investigation, interviewing North Korean defectors.
I. Nov. 29, 2006: Choi Yong-hun, a South Korean humanitarian aid worker who was arrested and imprisoned for almost 4 years for attempting to help North Korean refugees was released from the Chinese prison. It was found that he had been psychologically affected by the ongoing abuse during his imprisonment.
J. Dec. 10, 2006: Hosted events for North Korean Human Rights Awareness Week at Saitama Art Theater. Dec. 12, 2006: Participated in the international conference held at JICA international conference hall.
K. Dec. 17, 2006: Spoke on North Korean human rights and abduction at the meeting hosted by Hiroshima Branch of National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea.
L. Feb. 24-28, 2007: Joined the mission to investigate the current situation of North Korean refugees being detained in Thailand.
M. March 5, 2007: Discussed the human rights situation of North Korean refugees with Mr. Christian Whiton, US Deputy Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea.
N. March 6, 2007: Lectured on the North Korean refugee issue at Rotary Club, Hidaka City, Saitama Prefecture.
O.March 19, 2007: Lectured at the study session for “White paper on North Korean Human Rights” hosted by the Tokyo Bar Association.
P. March 27, 2007: Interviewed, in Laos, a North Korean defector who wished to settle in Japan. Initiated an operation to rescue three North Korean orphans, interviewing them at Vientiane jail. On April 17, LFNKR held a press conference at Tokyo Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan to focus attention on the three NK orphans in Laos.
Q. July 31, 2007: Discussed, at the Cabinet Office, a written proposal on the human rights and return of North Korean returnees.
R. Aug. 28-31, 2007: Attended the general meeting of IPCNKR. Hosted a dinner meeting with former foster children of LFNKR.
2. Securing safety of and protecting North Korean refugees
A. To fill the need for more protection, LFNKR added new shelters, namely, JAS-01, JRD-02, JRD-03, JYS-01, JSH-01, LSY-01, while discontinuing shelter JR-01.
B. Supplied 500 sets of winter clothing and 200 sets of summer clothing. Supplied food for 1,000 people (50 tons). This equals 500 grams per person per day. Helped 5 North Korean defectors who decided to go back to North Korea, by providing them with aid equivalent to 1,000RMB, which should cover their living expenses for a year.
3. Medical support
LFNKR achieved 90 percent of its goal for supplying 300 family medicine kits to needy people in North Korea through its three hubs located near the border between North Korea and China. In North Korea, the LFNKR supply network has three main relay points, namely, Musan, Hweryong, and Yusondong, to cover the neighboring areas. Helped two North Korean defectors pay for medical treatments, one for abortion of pregnancy resulting from rape and the other for injuries resulting from torture in Hweryong. Both recovered and successfully escaped into third countries.
4. Education Sponsorship Plan
To prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government is further intensifying its crackdown jointly with the North Korean government to block the inflow of North Korean refugees. This is making it increasingly difficult to reach North Korean orphans, whom it is our mission to protect under LFNKR’s education sponsorship plan.
Currently, about 20 North Korean children are being supported by our education sponsorship plan. Many of these children were born of Chinese men and North Korean defector females who had been bought for the Chinese men. This is a new issue – children with no nationality. When LFNKR initiated the education sponsorship plan 8 years ago, most of them were “Kochebi” (street children) whose parents had died from starvation. These days, however, the Chinese fathers are often mentally or physically handicapped adults whose parents or other relatives have bought the “bride” to shift the burden of care onto them. Such men are usually incapable of making a living and disinterested in raising children. As a result, large numbers of the children are abandoned. Many of them have reached ages when they should be attending school.
In February 2007, LFNKR established a new shelter, JRD-02, to support four new foster children.
5. Helping North Korean defectors settle in Japan
This year, operations to help North Korean defectors escape to and settle in third countries went smoothly. Among the defectors who can neither go back to North Korea nor stay in China, LFNKR gave priority to those facing imminent danger. We helped a total of 26 North Korean defectors reach South Korea. Four were through UNHCR, 12 via Thailand, and 10 via Laos. Two others settled in Japan.
In addition, LFNKR is currently supporting three North Korean defectors who are are in the process of settling in Japan. We have a need for more volunteers to help them learn Japanese, find places to live, find jobs, etc.
6. Expanding and enhancing activities in the international society
By inviting NGO members from other countries as well as Ms. Fumiko Saiga, Ambassador in Charge of Human Rights, LFNKR played a leading role in the international conference held to mark the North Korean Human Rights Awareness Week. The Week was established by Japan’s North Korean Human Rights Law. A new international aspect was added when members of the Japanese Branch of the Federation for a Democratic China and from the Kachin Women’s Association of Burma attended at the conference as observers.
A. LFNKR has made progress in adding new human resources, including staff members whose mother tongues are Chinese, Korean, and English. This is necessary for carrying out successful rescue activities. In addition to the already-established international cooperation network, LFNKR is fostering stronger relationships with other bodies, including think-tanks, a European medical NGO, and the US State Department’s section involved in refugee issues.
B. LFNKR has also begun a policy of accepting volunteer interns from abroad. After accepting one volunteer this fiscal year, LFNKR is expecting to receive another volunteer soon from England.
7. Events for enhancing awareness
As part of its activities for raising awareness of the North Korean refugee issue, LFNKR participated in the One World Festival held in Osaka and the Global Festival held in Tokyo. A meeting was also held to report on the international conference held in Bergen, Norway.
8. Securing a financial foundation
In the last fiscal year, 35 people joined our Monthly Donation Program, adding about 150,000 yen ($1,300) to available funds. LFNKR’s goals require at least double that amount to assure stable rescue activities.