Rev. Phillip Jun Buck
for NK Refugees in China
Phillip Jun Buck
Previous Name: John S. Yoon
Phillip Jun Buck was born on January 6, 1941 in Hwang
Hae Nam Do, Ong Jin Goon, North Korea. Reverend Buck was separated
from his parents during Korean War in the 1950s. He came to South
Korea during the war and lived there until he immigrated to the
United States in 1982.
Buck became naturalized and became a citizen in 1989. He resided
in the state of Washington before
he left for China to actively help the refugees. In 1997, Reverend
Buck finally had a chance to meet with his family in North
Korea as he made a visit. After seeing and understanding the
life Koreans in North Korea faced, that became the motivation
to begin his help to the North Koreans.
Buck began his ministry as a missionary at Khabarovsk
and Vladivostok, Russia in January 1992. Reverend Buck found
several seminaries and established churches in these two cities,
and several others, along with broadcasting the Gospel through
the means of public radio station. In 1994, the pastor began
to expand his ministry to China and worked with Korean Chinese
evangelists. He then began his missionary work to North Korea
in 1997 where he started operating a noodle factory at Sun Bong
Goon. For one year, Reverend Buck provided thousands of noodle
bowls to citizens everyday for free of charge. Later, he decided
to close down the factory because he came to realize that this
was not enough to help the North Koreans. Reverend returned to
China in 1998 and helped the North Korean refugees by providing
them with food and shelter and by sharing the Gospel.
the next seven years, Reverend Buck returned to the United
States several times to raise money from local churches and individuals
for his humanitarian assistance programs. When he returned to
China, he built several shelters at Tsingtao, Chungjin, Beijing,
Yanji, and Tuman for the North Korean refugees and provided them
with humanitarian assistance.
Buck received his Bachelor’s Degree in Theology
from Han Same University in 1970 along with the Master’s
Degree in Pastorate. He is the member of Assembly of God Korean
District and was sent by Assembly of God to serve as a missionary.
He first went to Russia in 1992, then from Russia, he went to
China and to North Korea. Reverend Buck has been serving as a
pastor for 35 years and as a missionary for 14 years.
Account of the Incident
9, 2005, Reverend Phillip J. Buck was arrested by the
Chinese police, along with three pastors from the United States
and South Korea. Several North Korean refugees who had been receiving
humanitarian assistance from Reverend Buck were also arrested
as they were traveling to Mongolia to get to South Korea. There
is no current information about the status of these detained
pastors arrested with Reverend Buck were released later that day; however
Reverend Buck was detained. An investigation
was conducted into Reverend Buck’s humanitarian work in
China. Reverend Buck explained to the Chinese authorities that
his work had no political affiliation or purpose. He further
explained that it was his intention to act with humanitarian
concern because he was not able to ignore the desperate needs
of the North Korean refugees.
Buck is currently detained in Yanji at a detention
center for foreigners.
Reasons to help
Buck has helped dozens of desperate, destitute, hungry,
and frightened North Korean refugees. He provided these refugees
care, comfort, and compassion, away from the maltreatment and
harsh living conditions in North Korea.
Buck had no harmful intentions toward the government
or people of China. His desire to help these people came from
his huge humanitarian heart, a calling of such importance to
him that he sacrificed everything in his life so that he might
be a part of the solution to the plight of his people. Reverend
Buck was born in North Korea, and has a special affinity for
the people of North Korea and China. Although he lived in South
Korea since the time of the Korean War, he never forgot his homeland
and the love he had for his family, friends, and countrymen.
When he witnessed North Korean refugees sacrificing everything
to obtain assistance in China, especially the younger children,
it reminded him of himself as a child, leaving his family and
his homeland behind. He could not ignore the calling he felt
to participate in this great humanitarian effort to ease the
burden and suffering of these people.
Rev. Buck spent
15 months in Yanji prison, undergoing many hardships. Thanks
to efforts by the US Embassy, he was spared further abuse when
he was deported to the United States in August 2006.
Buck is barred from returning to China legally, but he continues
to help North Korean refugees who have reached China by providing
financial and other support. He has served as a witness at
congressional hearings and in meetings with officials
at the State
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