Please Help

This just came in from Life Funds for North Korean Refugees, an extremely effective and proactive group based in Japan. This one may be life-or-death:

October 19, 2005

To: President Roh Moo-hyun
Chongwadae Presidential Palace
1 Jongno-gu, Seoul Special City
Republic of Korea

Your help with the following case is respectfully requested by Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), a Japanese nonprofit organization.

Request for your intervention in the rescue of Kang Song-hee (female, born Feb. 5, 1979), who failed in seeking asylum at the Japanese school in Tianjin and is now being detained in

On July 27, 2005, five North Korean refugees seeking asylum attempted to enter the Japanese International School compound located in Tianjin, China. The five were seized by guards 50 meters before reaching the school compound. The guards in charge of the Japanese residential quarter handed them over to the Chinese police. This may be legally justifiable, because the school, although it is an “international” school, does not have the diplomatic prerogative.

One of the five North Korean refugees, Kang Song-hee (female, born on Feb. 5, 1979) has already been repatriated twice before. According to a reliable source, during a prior two-month detention by the Security Agency in Chonjin, North Korea, interrogation and torture resulted in injury to her spine, caused bruises all over her body, broke ribs, and damaged her pelvis. She can barely maintain normal posture and has difficulty walking.

She found an opportunity to escape again during her transfer from Chonjin to the Onsong Security Agency, fleeing a third time from North Korea at the beginning of this year. She
received medical treatment in China and recovered to some extent. The expenses for her treatment were equivalent to US $2,000.

Her failure to receive asylum at the Japanese school in Tianjin means that Kang Song-hee now faces a third repatriation. We all are deeply concerned; if she is sent back, she faces the end of her life, judging from her experiences during two previous repatriations.

Reportedly, the five North Korean refugees, including Kang Song-hee, originally planned to go to the South Korean Consulate in Beijing. However, they found that the Consulate was much more tightly guarded than they expected. They were nearly seized at a pension where they were
staying, because of frequent door-to-door checks. When that happened, they found it necessary to flee immediately, and hurriedly headed for Tianjin as plan B.

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) has been striving to help the five refugees through its overseas network of NGOs and international organizations. Four of the refugees have already been sent back to North Korea. Meanwhile, only one, Kang Song-hee, is still detained in the jail in Tianjin, China.

According to the Yonhap News dated October 17, Mr. Kim Hee-tae, a South Korean humanitarian aid worker, said that Kang Song-hee has been telling the Chinese authorities that she is a South Korean national and that her mother lives in South Korea.

For humanitarian and human rights reasons, LFNKR strongly urges the South Korean government to actively and immediately intervene in this case to save the life of Kang Song-hee.
Kato Hiroshi
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (NPO)
A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0024
Tel/Fax: 03-3815-8127