Report on LFNKR Activities
in FY 2001 - 2002
Presented September 28, 2002
This report was prepared for the 5th General Meeting of Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR).
Establishing, expanding liaison with international NGOs
At the International Conference on North Korean Refugees and
Human Rights held in Tokyo in February 2002, we announced
our activities to the world in preparation for promoting our
cooperation with other international NGOs.
Among current matters, our interests are now being directed
toward the opening of a refugee camp for accommodating North
As the circumstances of the North Korean refugees change, we
face the obvious need to expand and further intensify our
activities. More specifically, we must seriously consider
securing more resources, both human and financial, to meet
the growing needs.
Instead of maintaining the scope of our activities
unchanged, we are now expanding our view toward working more
actively in the international framework in a spirit of
cooperation and solidarity.
What LFNKR accomplished in FY 2001-2002
1. Protecting the North Korean refugees
LFNKR is currently protecting and supporting about 300 North
Korean refugees in China.
(1) Supply of summer and winter clothing
We distributed a total of 500 outfits for cold weather
during the period from December 2001 to February 2002, and a
total of 300 sets of summer clothing.
(2) Supply of food to our shelters and emergency evacuation
We distributed a total of 14.4 tons of rice during the past
year. Monthly, the shelter RYO-01 located in China receives
400kg of rice, and the shelter RN-01 near the border
receives 800 kg of rice.
(3) Medical treatment aid
LFNKR provided medical treatment to a female North Korean
refugee suffering from tuberculosis. Under a doctor's
diagnosis and instructions, she received medication for six
months. Because it was difficult to obtain the necessary
medications in China, we sent the medicine for treating
tuberculosis from Japan. She has recovered and is happy,
saying that she is now healthy enough to handle daily life.
We also paid the expenses for an operation for a girl who
suffered from cerebral meningitis and peritonitis.
In one case, we paid for childbirth expenses and milk for
(4) Financial support extended to Korean Chinese engaged in
activities to secure the safety and protection of NK
LFNKR paid a total of 50,000 RMB or 750,000 yen (1RM=15yen)
in fines to bail out NK refugees and our local staff members
helping them, when they were arrested by Chinese police.
In four cases involving three shelters, namely, RYO-01, RYO-
2, and YAN-01, we were fined for protecting and nurturing
North Korean orphans under our foster parent scheme.
(5) Financial aid to NK refugees returning to NK
In 15 cases North Korean refugees were working in China to
support their families in North Korea, but they were not
paid as promised. When the workers demanded their wages,
the employers threatened to inform the police. To help
those refugees return to their families, we compensated them
for their lost wages. The total amount paid for this
purpose was 6,000 RMB (90,000 yen).
2. Self-reliance aid program
This is the third year of our self-reliance program to help
North Korean refugees make a living through their own
(1) LFNKR has helped the refugees with the production of
colorful hand-knit mats and has sold the items. Each was
sold at 500 yen, which buys 10 kg of rice for North Korean
refugees at our shelters. Ms. Yamada, one of our LFNKR
members has continued to sell the hand-knit mats at every
opportunity and has sold over 200. At the seminars held by
the Ladies' Association of Mindan (the Korean Residents Union in Japan), 346
were sold. Another member sold 50 at a small local Amnesty
group event. A total of 600 hand-knit mats have been sold.
(2) Likewise, a total of 120 key holders have been sold,
which exhausted the entire inventory. However, each lot of
key holders has a different design, and it is difficult to
maintain constant quality. There is still some room for
(3) The wooden crosses made by the refugees are only popular
among Christians, so they are not well suited for sales to
the general public in Japan. There are currently 50 wooden crosses
in stock, and no orders have been received. Some people
suggested that we should replace them with accessories, such
as cross pendants.
(4)The results of the farm operation will be verbally
reported at the general meeting.
3. Foster parent scheme
The foster parent scheme is one of the longest-running
activities of LFNKR. However, the stringent crackdown under
the Chinese government's "Strike Hard" campaign has reached
our North Korean refugee orphans, too. Three of our
shelters were searched after being betrayed, and more than
ten children under age 15 years were arrested and
repatriated by Chinese border guards. This was a great
shock to the foster parents, who are LFNKR members. Our
efforts to give those children hope and a future are facing
a severe challenge. (More details will be verbally given at
the general meeting.)
4. Distribution of food
Our food supply routes to Hamgyong Bukto and Hamgyong Namdo continue
to be maintained and operated regularly. We have been able
to maintain the monthly supply of 5 tons in terms of rice to
distribution routes RN-01 and RR-02.
The distribution volume target we set last fiscal year was 6
tons per month. It seems more reasonable, however, to
establish a goal of maintaining a distribution level of 5
tons monthly, judging from the capacity of our current
We have 25 main distribution spots in Hamgyong Bukto and
Hamgyong Namdo, and have added a new distribution spot in Ryang Gang Do.
The food is of course supplied to people seriously in need,
with higher priorities given to people with higher emergency
The problem of starving people eating the stocks of seed
corn still remains unsolved. During this fiscal year, we
supplied 2 tons of seed corn, 2 tons of nappa (celery
cabbage) seeds, and 2 tons of radish seeds in April and
According to reports by some local staff members who carried
out the distribution operation in the De Hong Dan County, the
number of people starving to death is increasing as it did
in 1996 and 1997. In the Tehondangun area, the supply of
food has not yet been resumed.
We need to discuss whether the non-regular supply route RR-
03 should be upgraded to a regular supply route. To achieve
this, it will be essential to secure additional financial
resources and staff members.
5. Helping NK refugees with moving and settling
During the past year, we had xx (number) North Korean
refugees who needed help with moving to and settling in
other countries, after third countries agreed to assist.
One of our vitally important assignments is to develop and
find the human resources equipped with adequate knowledge
and experience to fulfill this task. Thus, the network of
Korean volunteers that we have built is invaluable.
LFNKR considers it important to maintain liaison and
cooperation with other friendly NGOs. This liaison backed
by mutual trust encourages us all in coping with the
challenge of the issue of North Korean refugees. At the
same time, we must never forget that some staff members of
overseas NGOs with whom we have been working have been
arrested and detained by the Chinese authorities.
It is expected that more than 1,000 refugees will settle in
South Korea by the end of this year. However, there have
actually been indications that not every refugee has been
able to smoothly adapt to the South Korean society, although
they share a common language.
Others were originally ethnic Koreans born in Japan, who
were persuaded to move to North Korea by glittering
promises. Some of those may wish to try and return to Japan,
where they were born. Often these returnees bring along
their children who do not know the Japanese language.
According to Kyodo News Service, more than 20 returnees
reportedly have already returned to Japan in secret.
Adjusting to Japanese society, where the language and
cultural differences are far greater, may be even more
difficult. LFNKR must be prepared to establish a system and
policy for aiding the refugees to settle in.
6. Publishing books and booklets
Publishing books and booklets on the people, human rights
and actual conditions in North Korea has been positioned as
an important LFNKR publicity activity. In May this year, we
arranged publishing for a 5,000-copy initial printing of the
book "Datsuhokusha" through the publisher Banseisha. The
book is the diary of a North Korean escapee who almost
reached freedom on his third attempt, but was caught at the
last moment, repatriated, and tortured to death. His
daughter kept his diary. The book is the only legacy he
left. With sales increasing, a little greater push will
allow us to arrange a second printing.
We also planned to publish "Jun Gu Village Camp Number 12" (provisional title) in
the form of a booklet; however, we were not able to finish
it before the fiscal year ended. This should be realized
early next fiscal year.
7. Holding debriefing sessions and informal gatherings
Another new project for the fiscal year is our promotion of
publicity activities. For this purpose, we have held
sessions to report on our specific aid activities along the
border of China and North Korea, and the actual situations
According to our representative's suggestion, LFNKR has
begun hosting luncheon sessions for people supporting our
activities. This new activity has been accepted quite
favorably. We plan to continue such events and also to hold
informal discussion sessions or meetings in other local
areas in Japan.
We have begun appealing to Mindan, the Korean Residents Union
in Japan, to extend their interests to the
actual situation of North Korean refugees and to support our
activities from the viewpoint of humanity and human rights.
Thanks to our continued efforts, we were invited to speak at
the national workshop of the Ladies' Association of Korean
Residents in Japan during June and July 2002. At seven
venues in Japan, we addressed a total of about 3,000 members
of the Ladies' Association.
At every venue, we received favorable responses to our
appeal. In a number of cases, audience members, primarily
those who have relatives, acquaintances, or friends in North
Korea told the speakers from LFNKR that they had lost track
of their relatives or friends, or that they are still
sending money and supplies to the relatives in North Korea.
Some told us that they no longer heard from their brothers
or sisters in North Korea. After the lectures, the speakers
were surrounded by members of the audience wishing to
exchange information. Quite a few attendees gave us words
At the venues, we sold the hand-knit mats and key holders,
which are products made by the refugees under the self-
reliance project. The speakers from LFNKR all appealed to
the audience, telling them "If you buy one of these
products, it means that you are buying 10 kilograms of rice
for North Korean refugees. A total of 346 colorful hand-
knit mats was sold, which will buy the refugees 3,460 kg of
rice. In addition, 120 key holders and 504 copies of the
book "Datsuhokusha" (Escapee from North Korea) were sold.
8. Procedure for registering as NPO (Nonprofit Organization)
During the past year we considerably expanded our
activities. As our relationships with government agencies,
organizations and overseas NGOs expanded, we have seen our
social credibility, influence, and responsibilities grow. We
have decided to upgrade the status of LFNKR from a group of
volunteers to a corporation, and have started the legal
procedure for registration.
In the midst of preparing for legal registration, a serious
security threat arose, which caused us to hesitate about
disclosing the real names and addresses of some LFNKR
directors. For that reason, we decided to modify the list
of directors' names before submitting our legal document for
registration. The modified document was submitted to the
appropriate authorities in September 2002, a delay of some
few months from our original schedule. The authorities'
decision will be announced in the next fiscal year.