North Korean Refugees in China: Looking at the Evidence

The DPRK-PRC Border, near Tumen, PRC (Summer 2010)

The debate on humanitarian aid to the DPRK rages, both here on CanKor as well as outside of CanKor’s virtual walls. However, there is one aspect of this unfortunate situation that is often overlooked in the ongoing dialogue: what happens to those who are affected by hunger.

The previous famine in North Korea brought many changes to the country, but none was possibly more remarkable than the catalyst it provided for the largest exodus of people the country had seen since the Korean War. The numbers betray this story: pre-famine, the Ministry of Unification tells us that there were less than 1,000 North Koreans settled in the ROK. As of April 17, there are more than 21,000. Read the rest of this entry »

The Government of Canada Speaks (Just A Little, For Now)

Han Voice Chair Randall Baran-Chong and MP Barry Devolin

Han Voice Chair Randall Baran-Chong and MP Barry Devolin

Two inter-related events quietly happened this past week.

The first event took place in Ottawa last Thursday, as the inaugural John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award was awarded to the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (or “NKHR”). This achievement, the brainchild of an up-and-coming DFAIT staffer, was given by none other than Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon.

The second event took place in Toronto last Saturday. An open forum was co-hosted by HanVoice, the Citizens Alliance, as well as the Toronto Korean consulate at the University of Toronto. As part of the event, several speakers, including Benjamin Yoon (chairman of NKHR), the South Korean consul general, and Member of Parliament Barry Devolin gave some opening remarks. These opening addresses were followed by a short panel discussion by Chris Kim and Sydney Choi of HanVoice, Pam Shime from the Global Advocacy & Leadership Institute, Suk Woo Kim from NKHR, and Ashley Eom from NKHR. The panelists spoke about wide-and-varied topics, including possible private sponsorship and education programs for North Korean refugees, the potential for the issue of children (and especially stateless children) as a possible wedge issue regarding human rights advocacy, food aid, and the rampant sexual trafficking of female North Korean refugees in China. Read the rest of this entry »

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