Rescue Mission 613 Successfully Completed
LFNKR (Life Funds for North Korean Refugees) recently helped the first two of the six North Korean refugees waiting to escape to freedom. These six are the refugees for whom we recently invited donations.
And it was your generosity that enabled us to help these two. Thank you so much for your ongoing interest and your continued support, and we invite you to help us help the remaining North Korean refugees on our waiting list.
Rescue mission 613 was initiated at the beginning of June, and although it encountered a few unexpected incidents, everything ended well. Unfortunately, just before the rescue mission began, the identity of the special “guide” originally selected for the task was disclosed in the media. This, of course, meant the guide’s risk of arrest had become too great, so we hurriedly sent in a different guide.
When it was almost time to meet the new refugees, LFNKR’s receiving staff members were waiting in a safe area bordering the Mekong River. They had expected to receive the guide’s call on the previous day, but no call had come. Early the next morning, the staff members tried several times to contact the guide. Again, failure, and they grew increasingly nervous. After several hours, however, the call came. It was good news. The North Korean refugees and the guide had landed in the safe area, but they still struggled to locating the actual meeting spot before finally finding each other.
Over a big breakfast, the rescue staff and the refugees got to know each other. The refugees provided information about themselves and their situation, while the staff members explained the legal procedures that lay ahead of them. In broad strokes, they would turn themselves in to the local police in northern Thailand, be transferred to a “jail”, a temporary holding facility, before at last being released for their final destination in South Korea.
After the breakfast, the staff provided the refugees with all necessary clothing, toiletries, and miscellaneous items they will need while being detained. In addition, the staff gave them enough cash to pay the “fine” for their illegal entry and to cover their expenses during the detention. As soon as the rescue staff saw that the two refugees had been received by the local police, our people left the area.
Heavier crackdown under the current military government in Thailand
Thailand is now under military rule, and security in the Northern part of Thailand, including the Golden Triangle area, has been stepped up. Some South Korean NGO aid workers have been arrested for assisting in illegal entry. It seems that the Thai authorities are focusing their efforts on arresting foreigners who try to rescue North Korea refugees. This is partly because they are on the lookout for weapons carried in from other countries via the Mekong River, weapons which might be used in an attempt to overthrow the Thai government.
Enhanced security strengthened further in China after the assassination of a Christian minister
Currently, two of the remaining North Korean refugees on our rescue list are still awaiting rescue. They are now hiding in a remote area in China. The recent assassination of Pastor Han in Changbai, China, has led to tighter inspections and investigations at checkpoints, which is adding to the difficulties of rescue missions.
Particularly worrying is the fact that the two defectors do not understand Chinese. This means it will be extremely difficult to escort them to our usual first meeting point in China. Right now, none of the “guides” is willing to accept the task. It is too risky, they say, to drive the seven or eight hours required to get the refugees to their destination in China. Where they are, in the northeastern part in China, additional temporary check points have been established, so the “guide” who used to work with us is reluctant to try right now. LFNKR continues to seek another guide. It appears there will be some delay before the second rescue mission can begin.