June 15, 2004
The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea
A Japanese NGO
1. Six North Korean refugees
Six North Korean refugees who escaped from North Korea and were
arrested in Shanghai, China were deported to North Korea. The
six, who are in mortal danger, are the elder son, the second son
and a niece of Mrs. Shin Jung Ae, as well as the second son’s
wife and two children.
Mrs. Shin Jung Ae’s:
Elder son: Mr.
Chang Gyung Chul
of Birth: September 22, 1969
son: Mr. Chang Gyung Soo
of Birth: March 21, 1972
Ms. Chang Mi Hwa
of Birth: January 15, 1969
of Mr. Chang Gyung Soo: Mrs. Chun Kyung Ae
of Birth: July 25, 1971
elder son of Mr. Chang Gyung Soo
of Birth: March 9, 1997
second son of Mr. Chang Gyung Soo
of Birth: August 31, 2002
These six people escaped from North Korea March
28, 2003 and moved to a shelter in China. It was difficult for
six North Korean refugees to live together because the Chinese
security police could more easily find them. They lived there
for four months, but it became necessary to vacate the place by
They found it difficult, however, to find a
new shelter. Meanwhile, more and more neighbors were becoming
aware of them, so we had to take action by the beginning of August.
Thus, we met them in Shanghai, planning to seek refuge in the
Japanese school in Shanghai and to request the protection of the
However, we were surrounded by the Chinese security
police who apparently had learned of our plan, and 12 people including
these six North Korean refugees, two other North Korean refugees,
three South Korean supporters and one Japanese supporter were
all arrested. The North Korean escapees who were arrested in Shanghai
were deported to North Korea.
We had been deeply concerned that our act of
guiding those North Korans to a Japanese school might hasten their
death, and now we learn that they face a death sentence. The North
Korean government will not directly send them to the scaffold,
but will instead send them to one of their infamous prison camps,
where their survival is highly unlikely. This report on Mrs. Shin’s
six family members is based on reliable information from Chinese
citizens who frequently travel to North Korea.
Mrs. Chun Kyung Ae, the wife of Mrs. Shin’s
second son, and her two children were sent back to their house,
but three others are still in custody. Mrs. Shin Jung Ae’s
hopes that they would be released after a certain period have
Mrs. Shin, who has also served time in a prison
camp, says that their transfer to the high-level Security Agency
of North Hamgyung province from the lower-level Security Agency
of Chungjin city, means they are destined for one of the more
harsh prison camps, and there is little chance that they will
survive. It means that the North Korean government considers those
three people among the most serious offenders.
The only way to rescue her sons is to appeal
to international society, encouraging human rights advocates and
citizens all over the world to exert pressure on the Kim Jong
Il regime to stop oppressing its citizens.
During the questioning in Shanghai I told the
officers that: “North Korean escapees will be killed if
they are sent to North Korea, so please do not deport them”.
However, the translator and investigator commented
that I was saying stupid things and laughed at me. Apparently
they hear only controlled information and really did not know
the actual situation.
The Chinese government, however, cannot claim
that it does not know the situation. Now these three sons are
in mortal danger, and the Chinese government must be confronted
with the fact that they deported these three to a country where
they will be victimized. The Chinese government has an obligation
to appeal to the Kim Jong Il regime not to persecute these three
The North Koran escapees are victims who have
been deprived of their basic human rights and their right to live
unmolested in North Korea. The Chinese government is not performing
its duty under the international treaty, as it fails to protect
victims. On the contrary, the Chinese government searches for
North Korean escapees, setting a price on their heads. It arrests
and deports them to North Korea. The Chinese government is responsible
for the suffering of hundreds of thousands of victims. The Chinese
authorities in April 2004 even shot a boy dead who had escaped
from North Korea. We denounce the Chinese government which acts
as an accomplice of Kim Jong Il and his crimes against humanity.
2. After being arrested in Shanghai
August 7: Twelve people were arrested near the
Japanese school in Shanghai around 4 p.m..
August 8: Mr. Chang Gyung Soo’s wife was
sent to Tandong by plane with her 2 sons and questioned by the
Chinese security police until August 12.
August 12: They were sent to Shiniju city in
North Korea in the morning, then assigned to the detention center
of the Security Agency in Chungjin city where they were detained
for 10 days. The children were sent beck to their home in advance.
August 21: Four Japanese and South Korean activists
who tried to save those North Korean refugees were deported from
China and returned to their respective countries.
August 23: Mr. Chang Gyng Soo’s wife was
sent back to her home, but the Chungjin Security Police continued
Late in September: The Security Police ended
October 9: It was reported that Mrs. Shin Jung
Ae’s sons and a niece were sent to Shiniju city in September
28 with another North Korean escapee.
October 15: We received a report that Mrs. Shin’s
sons and a niece were sent under guard to the Chungjin station
at noon. The eldest son and a niece looked fine, but the second
son looked very ill. He was unable to walk by himself. It did
appear, however, that they had not been beaten.
These 3 people were sent to a district detention
center of the Security Agency in Chungjin, North Hamgyung province
and questioned by the police. In late January 2004, they were
sent to the provincial Security Police in Chungjin, which has
more authority than the district Security Police. We had hoped
that they would be released when they were in the detention center
of the district Security Police.
Eventually, however, they were sent to the detention
center of the provincial Security Police, and Mrs. Shin now thinks
that they will not be released. It is impossible to bring food
for them, and due to their critical situation, they do not receive
enough food. Furthermore, if they are sent to the more harsh concentration
camp, they face death. These three people have grown weak over
the past five months. Mrs. Shin had been holding to a faint hope
that they might be released in April following Kim Il Sung’s
birthday, but no release came.
3. Mrs. Shin Jung Ae decides and takes
Mrs. Shin is convinced, from her own experience
in the prison camp, that there is no other way except to appeal
to people around the world, and so she resolved to make the names
of her three sons public. She first presented her appeal at the
meeting in Osaka, Japan on May 10. Then she repeated her appeal
at the press conference the following day, where she met several
members of the Japanese Diet in Tokyo. She presented her appeal
again at the press conference in Korea on June 7. Broadcast networks,
including KBS and Asia Radio Press, interviewed her, and several
newspapers carried her account the next day.
The people and their family members who experience
the oppression of Kim Jong Il seldom appeal to the world because
they fear harm. In actual fact, those people are usually deterred
by the vicious hostage policy and the systematic retaliations.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Shin publicly revealed the actual situation;
she decided that only this action might save her three family
members. She also speaks for many other North Korean refugees.
Her act is an unusually brave one. We appeal to people of judgment
and good will to act together so that this courageous woman will
not have to stand against a despot alone.
4. The retaliation of Kim Jong Il against
Mrs. Shin’s appeal
We have watched the response of Kim Jong Il
against Mrs. Shin’s appeal. We regret that he has not ceased
his oppression of her family. On the contrary, he has stepped
up their persecution.
Kim Jong Il did not release the three people
being held in custody. Instead the Security Agency picked up the
second son’s wife, after she had returned home, and took
her to the police station around June 10. The Security Agency
assumed that she had been the source of information about the
three people detained in the Security Agency jail of North Hamgyung
province in Chungjin city, the information that Mrs. Shin revealed
at the press conference in Seoul on June 7.
The three were sent to the National Security
Agency rather than the Social Safety Agency. Furthermore, they
were sent to the high-level National Security Agency of North
Hamgyung province from the National Security Agency of Chungjin
city. This indicates that their punishment is slated to be severe.
Mrs. Shin, who lived in North Korea for 40 years,
believes that not only the four people now in custody, but also
her two young grandsons will be sent to the prison camp soon.
It is difficult for people to survive there. Mrs. Shin particularly
worries about her two grandsons.
Kim Jong Il has been shown to retaliate against
any protest of his human rights violations. These retaliations
involve further brutalizing the victims while forbidding them
and their family members to talk about the real situation in North
Korea. These retaliations cannot be tolerated.
We urge all people and all organizations around
the world to protest Kim Jong Il’s ongoing persecutions,
to send messages demanding the release of innocent people, and
to exert personal and official influence upon North Korea.
Mrs. Shin Jung Ae was born in Japan. She moved
to her ethnic homeland, North Korea, in 1961 along with hundreds
of thousands of other Korean Japanese. She married in North Korea,
and her husband died in 1999. She escaped from North Korea with
her daughter and a daughter’s husband in November 2001 and
sought refuge in South Korea in September 2002.
Mrs. Shin Jung Ae
in Japan: Tuchiura city, Ibaragi prefecture
of birth: March 3, 1945
to North Korea: 1961 (In November 1968, she married
a Korean Japanese man who had also moved to North Korea.
Her husband died in 1999)
in North Korea: Chungjin city, North Hamgyung province
to China: November 17, 2001
in South Korea: September 13, 2002
address: a suburb of Seoul, South Korea
Now Mrs. Shin Jung Ae lives with her elder daughter
and the daughter’s family near Seoul. Many of her family
members still live in North Korea, so she had feared that North
Korean authorities would learn of her escape from North Korea
and that she was now living in South Korea. However, the North
Korean authorities learned everything after the arrest and the
deportation of her sons. Therefore, she decided she must appeal
to international society, and made up her mind to appear in public
and disclose her name.
Mrs. Shin Jung Ae escaped from North Korea in
August 1999, but she returned to her home in North Korea three
months later because her children were waiting for her.
However, she was arrested in Musan, questioned
and investigated for six months in Chungjin city, and detained
in the Yodeok prison camp for political prisoners for one year.
She was permitted to return home on April 29,
2001, but her daughter and the daughter’s husband had already
escaped to China. Mrs. Shin Jung Ae again escaped from North Korea
in July 2001. She arrived in China in the middle of the night,
then the next morning she was arrested, along with her daughter’s
husband, who had come to meet her. They were sent to Chungjin
city, but thanks to her relatives, they were soon allowed to return
to their home. Her daughter’s husband then escaped to China
Mrs. Shin Jung Ae tried to go to China because
her daughter in China was about to deliver a baby. This was Mrs.
Shin’s third attempt. She went to Yungil in China, but was
again arrested and sent back via Onsung.
Her past record was not discovered at that time,
so she gave money to the officer who destroyed her document and
released her. Thus, on her fourth attempt, Mrs. Shin escaped from
North Korea in November 2001 and arrived in South Korea by way
of Vietnam and Cambodia.