North Koreans who escaped the totalitarian country but were caught and are being held in China’s detention centers could be freed if South Korea’s president asks for their release.
If forced back to North Korea, they face torture, imprisonment, and possible execution for the “crimes” of escaping the totalitarian country, and for some, being Christian.
Among the detainees in China are two families – one with a teenage daughter, and another family with two teenage sons. They are all Christians and are trying to reunite with their families in South Korea.
In March, Chinese authorities handed over two young Christian North Korean sisters, held since September 2020, to the human traffickers who had bought and enslaved them.
China forcibly repatriates escapees back to North Korea, in violation of international agreements. Yet due to Covid, North Korea has sealed its border and is refusing to accept defectors.
A letter appealing to President Moon Jae-in to rescue the escapees was hand-delivered to the South Korean embassy in Washington, DC, on April 30.
The letter was signed by 23 former U.S. officials representing every U.S. presidential administration since Nixon, including Obama and Bush’s Special Envoys for North Korea human rights.
Christian Freedom International joined the letter and in hand-delivering it to the South Korean embassy during North Korean Freedom Week.
Previous South Korean administrations have asked for humanitarian considerations for North Korean women, men, and children held in China, and requested safe passage to South Korea or a third country.
According to South Korea’s constitution, North Koreans who flee to South Korea are automatically recognized as citizens.
Tens of thousands have defected to South Korea since the de facto end of the Korean War in 1953.
Every South Korean president has worked to rescue North Koreans who escaped – until the current president. Pres. Moon has allowed the current escapees to languish in China’s detention centers – even after China released the Christian sisters to human traffickers.
Pres. Moon is pursuing a policy of “peace” and “co-prosperity” with North Korea. His government has proposed changes to school textbooks to minimize North Korea’s military belligerence and remove any mention of its human rights abuses.
Under President Moon Jae-in, sending literature – including Bibles – into North Korea is banned and considered a “hostile act”.
Despite North Korea’s attempt to erase Christianity from the nation, one escapee said, “You should never think that Christianity died in North Korea. It is alive.”
Please pray for:
- God to miraculously protect and free North Korean escapees.
- South Korea’s president and government to change their stance toward North Korea – to have compassion for the people and stand against the brutal regime.
- North Koreans to know God in powerful ways in the midst of the persecution.
April 30, 2021
His Excellency Moon Jae-in
President of the Republic of Korea
c/o His Excellency Lee Soo Hyuck
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the USA
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea
2450 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
RE: North Korean Refugees in China
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to request your urgent action to save the lives of the North Korean men, women, and children currently being held in detention in China by offering them entry to South Korea. Most, if not all, of those being detained were trying to reach the Republic of Korea. As you well know, if China forcefully repatriates them back to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea they face certain torture and certain imprisonment, but additionally, could also face execution for the “crime” of trying to get to South Korea. Many of those being held have family in South Korea.
Ongoing concerns regarding the COVID 19 pandemic have led the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to keep its borders closed, which gives you a tremendous opportunity to request China to allow them safe passage to South Korea. This would be consistent with decades of bilateral humanitarian action taken by the PRC and the ROK in facilitating the resettlement of North Koreans to the Republic of Korea. Your request for humanitarian consideration also offers China an opportunity to humanely decongest its detention centers where, according to reliable sources, at least 130 refugees are being held.
Mr. President, you are in a position to save the lives of these Korean women, men, and children. We earnestly ask that you act on their behalf. In closing, we note your own family was once in a precarious position as refugees when action on their behalf led to your safety and security and offered you the opportunity to rise to become the President of the Republic of Korea.
Thank you for your consideration of this request, and we look forward to your response.
Suzanne Scholte, Chair, North Korea Freedom Coalition
Kim Seong Min, Founder and Director of Free North Korea Radio
Co-Chairs, North Korea Freedom Week 2021
Joining in this request are the following former U.S. Government Officials
Ambassador Morton I. Abramowitz, Permanent Career Ambassador who served as an Ambassador for Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush
Richard V. Allen, National Security Advisor for President Ronald Reagan and Deputy National Security Advisor for President Richard Nixon (instrumental in the rescue of future South Korean president Kim Dae Jung in 1980)
Thomas Barker, General Counsel and Counselor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for President George W. Bush
Roberta Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Department of State’s first human rights bureau for President Jimmy Carter
John Despres, Director of Strategic Assessments at the Department of Energy and National Intelligence Officer for Nuclear Proliferation for President Jimmy Carter, founding Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at NDU and Assistant to the Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs for President Ronald Reagan, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement under President William Clinton
Chuck Downs, Deputy Director for Regional Affairs, East Asia, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, for President George W. Bush
Felice Gaer, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom during President Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s Administrations and Vice Chair, UN Committee Against Torture under President Barack Obama
Chadwick R. Gore, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for President Donald Trump
Ambassador Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for President George W. Bush
Ambassador Robert R. King, Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President Barack Obama
Jay P. Lefkowitz, P.C., Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President George W. Bush
Ambassador Winston Lord, Director of Policy Planning Staff at the State Department for President Gerald Ford and Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor for President Richard Nixon and Ambassador to China for Presidents Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush and Assistant Secretary of State for President William Clinton
Barton W. Marcois, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs for President George W. Bush
Honorable Tidal W. McCoy, Acting Secretary and Senior Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for President Ronald Reagan
Ambassador J. William Middendorf, II, Secretary of the Navy for President Richard Nixon and President Gerald Ford and Ambassador to the OAS and the European Union for President Ronald Reagan
Thomas C. Montgomery, Senior Vice President of Congressional Affairs at the Export-Import Bank of the United States for President George W. Bush
Andrew Natsios, Administrator, US Agency for International Development for President George W. Bush
Daniel Pipes, Policy Planning Staff for President Ronald Reagan
Eric Schwartz, President of Refugees International and Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration for President Barack Obama and NSC Senior Director for Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs and Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs for President William Clinton
Gare Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor for President William Clinton
Katrina Lantos Swett, President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice and Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom during President Barack Obama’s Administration
Ambassador Morse Tan, Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice for President Donald Trump
Christian Whiton, Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications for State Department for President Donald Trump and Deputy Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President George W. Bush
Joining in this request are the following NGO Leaders and NGO Member Groups of the North Korea Freedom Coalition:
Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign USA
Bro. Adalberto Santiago, International Christian Embassy Inc.
Casey Lartigue Jr., Co-founder, Freedom Speakers International
David Malik and Sean Kang, North Korea Human Rights Watch
Eiko Kawasaki, President, Korea of All
Jason West, Vice Chairman, North Korea Freedom Coalition
Kato Hiroshi, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Kenneth Bae, President, NK Relief
Minjung Kim, Associate Executive Director, Save North Korea (SNK)
Peter Kang, Chairman, Korean Freedom Alliance
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center
Wendy Wright, President, Christian Freedom International
North Korea Freedom Coalition Public Members (partial listing):
Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA
Citizen’s Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees & North Korean Refugees
Coalition for North Korea Women’s Rights*
Committee for the Democracy of North Korea*
Council for Human Rights in North Korea
Defense Forum Foundation
ENoK (Emancipate North Koreans)
Family Research Council
Fighters for a Free North Korea*
Free North Korea Radio*
Freedom for North Korean Refugees of Minnesota
Freedom Society of America
Helping Hands Korea
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Korean Freedom Alliance
Korean War Abductees Family Union
Korean War POW Affairs
Lawyers for Human Rights & Unification of Korea
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Natl Assoc for Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea
New Korea Women’s Alliance*
North Korea People’s Liberation Front (NKPLF)*
NK Watch: Free the NK Gulag*
NKIA Collaboration (North Koreans in America)*
NY Commission to Help N. Korean Refugees
North Korea Strategy Center*
Open Doors USA
Save North Korea
Simon Wiesenthal Center
*organization led by North Korean escapees