refugee crisis

January 20, 2010

a worsening situation…

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has toughened laws and increased punishments in recent years for those caught trying to leave the reclusive state, a U.N. human rights envoy said on Friday.

Human rights have been a flash point in tense ties between North Korea and the Western world, but the issue has often been overshadowed by Washington’s attempts to prod Pyongyang back to sputtering nuclear disarmament talks.

“Over the past year plus, I’ve noted stricter punishment against people leaving the country of origin and we note generally a decline of outflows from the country of origin into neighboring countries,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled the state as its troubled economy has been made worse by years of Pyongyang’s bungled policies and sanctions imposed to punish it for rattling regional security, rights groups have said.

“The example of people trying to leave and being punished for trying to leave or sent back and being punished more severely, this is a very worrying state of affairs and that’s gotten worse over the past couple of years,” Muntarbhorn told reporters in Seoul after a week-long visit to South Korea.

Muntarbhorn is in the final year of his six-year mandate during which he has tried to enter North Korea for research but has been refused entry by its communist government.

He saw some relaxation of laws in recent years related to human rights in the North but the change has only been in form.

More people are attempting to flee the North due to a worsening economy, with brokers and activists becoming more skilled in helping them.

Most people who flee the country typically cross a narrow river from a northeastern province into China, where they then seek passage to a third country for their asylum bids.

China considers them economic refugees and forcibly repatriates them. Once back, the North Koreans face prison, where torture is common and the chance of death is high due to the brutal conditions, human rights workers said.

Source (

thoughts later



June 10, 2009

I thought that Laura Ling and Euna Lee would be out of NKorea relatively quickly (definitely not longer than a year but then I read this and I was pretty surprised):

The guy spent 2 years in prison!  and he was definitely being used as a bargaining chip.  Hmmm…..


June 8, 2009

Reporters get 12-year terms in N. Korea

(CNN) — Two U.S. journalists who were detained in North Korea while covering the plight of defectors living along the China-North Korea border have been sentenced to 12 years in labor camps, the country’s state-run media said Monday.  

The Central Court of North Korea sentenced Laura Ling and Euna Lee for the “grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

As a result, the court sentenced the women to “12 years of reform through labor,” meaning they will serve out their sentence in a labor camp.

The U.S. State Department said it had seen the reports of the convictions and was trying to confirm it with Korean authorities.

“We are deeply concerned by the reported sentencing of the two American citizen journalists by North Korean authorities, and we are engaged through all possible channels to secure their release,” said spokesman Ian Kelley in a statement. “We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian grounds.”

Ling and Lee were taken into custody March 17. They are reporters for California-based Current TV, a media venture of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. 

According to media reports, the trial began Thursday. Much of the time, the only news coming from the secretive and isolated communist nation is relayed through the state media.

he U.S. State Department was informed by the Swedish ambassador to North Korea that no observers were allowed in the courtroom

Sweden represents the United States in North Korea, because the two countries, which fought on opposite sides during the three-year Korean War in the 1950s, do not have diplomatic relations.

The State Department was notified the reporters had a defense attorney, but was not given the lawyer’s name.

Several senior administration officials said the idea of sending either Gore or New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to Pyongyang on a mission to get the journalists released has been floated to the North Koreans.

No answer has come so far, but the expectation is that once the trial ended the North would accept a visit by either Gore or Richardson to secure their release.

Richardson served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary during the Clinton administration, and he has maintained contacts with North Korea. He took several trips there as ambassador, and he has worked for the release of people held by the North Koreans in the past.

North Korea charged the reporters with illegal entry into the country, “hostile acts” and spying.

The women’s families broke months of silence last week, making public pleas for their release.

“When the girls left the United States, they never intended to cross into North Korean soil. And if they did at any point, we apologize,” Laura Ling, Ling’s sister, said Wednesday.

“And we know that they are very, very sorry. And we ask that you show mercy today,” added Ling, a special correspondent for CNN.

Contact with the women has been extremely limited.

The Swedish ambassador was allowed to see them three times.

Despite the limited communication, the families said they’d heard enough to know the women were “terrified” and “extremely scared.”










I don’t know what to say.  I am truly hopeful that negotiations will be successful [especially since I am sure they are just using the reporters as a bargaining chip for their own personal gain] but something has got to change…. 







May 25, 2009

Just a quick reminder, please come to the SPAANK event on Wednesday.  It is going to be phenomenal!!!  We are not allowed to let more than 310 people in so come early and grab your seat!  [Covel Grand Horizon doors open 6:30].  

But anyways, if you haven’t heard :  North Korea confirms second nuclear test


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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea has conducted its second nuclear test, the country’s state news agency announced Monday.  

The announcement came little more than an hour after the U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.7 seismic disturbance at the site of North Korea’s first nuclear test — in October 2006.

North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency said Monday’s test was conducted “as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way.”

“We are gravely concerned by North Korea’s claims,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

The State Department said it was analyzing the data, but that the Geological Survey’s report of a seismic event was “consistent with a test.”

The White House — which less than three weeks ago announced a new diplomatic effort to restart stalled talks with North Korea about its nuclear program — said the test was in “blatant defiance” of the U.N. Security Council.

The six-party talks are aimed at persuading North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program. Along with North Korea and the United States, the participants are: China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants action by the international community,” the White House said in a statement early Tuesday.

North Korea threatened to conduct a second bomb test in response to U.N. Security Council criticism of its April 5 test of a long-range rocket. The isolated communist state expelled international inspectors from its nuclear sites and announced plans to restart the reactor that produces plutonium for its nuclear weapons.

“The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control, and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology,” KCNA announced. Video Watch how the test may have taken world by surprise »

U.S. intelligence estimated that the first North Korean test produced an explosion equal to less than 1,000 tons of TNT — a fraction of the size of the bombs the United States dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. There was no immediate information on the yield of the weapon used in Monday’s test.

Jim Walsh, an international security analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told CNN that the North Korean test was not a surprise, but the timing was “faster than expected.” But the real questions raised by the test are “less military” and more political, he said. Video Watch how Pyongyang has used nuclear tests to gain concessions »

“We know so little about this country,” Walsh said. “We don’t have good relations with them, they’re going through a leadership transition and on top of that, they test a nuclear weapon. So the problem with this is we’re not going to have military action, but it’s all the uncertainty and political consequences.”

The test came less than three weeks after the United States announced a new diplomatic effort to restart the stalled North Korean nuclear talks. The Obama administration’s designated point person on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, visited the region for talks with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

In July 2008, negotiators reached agreement with Pyongyang on a timetable for North Korea to resume disabling its nuclear facilities. But the North balked, demanding the United States first take it off its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Video Watch South Korea’s reaction to the nuclear test »

The Bush administration lifted that designation in October, but plans to push for an agreement allowing the other parties to check whether Pyongyang has revealed all of its nuclear secrets stalled.

There was no immediate response to the test from Beijing.

In Seoul, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak’s office said the country was investigating the reported test and would hold an emergency meeting of its national security council. And in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso’s office said it had set up a task force to look into the test and how to respond.

In June 2008, North Korea acknowledged producing roughly 40 kilograms of enriched plutonium — enough for about seven nuclear bombs. But Walsh said North Korea remains “years and years” away from having a weapon it can put atop a long-range missile like those in the United States, Chinese or Russian arsenals.

“Nothing good” can come from Monday’s test, he said, “but it doesn’t mean they’re going to have a real working nuclear weapon tomorrow or next year.”  



For the real article:







(CNN) — Two American journalists will be tried in a North Korean court on June 4, Pyongyang’s official news agency said Thursday.
Laura Ling was taken into custody March 17 along the China-North Korea border.

Laura Ling was taken into custody March 17 along the China-North Korea border.

The two reporters for Current TV, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, are accused of entering the country illegally and intending “hostile acts.”

Ling and Lee were taken into custody March 17 along the China-North Korea border.

Groups representing journalists have lashed out at North Korea for detaining the two reporters.

The International Press Institute last month called on North Korea to “immediately free journalists who are being used as apparent political hostages in [North Korea’s] wider diplomatic disputes with the United States.”

The U.S. State Department describes North Koreaas “a dictatorship under the absolute rule of Kim Jong-il.”

The department’s human rights report on North Korea for 2008 says, “The judiciary was not independent and did not provide fair trials. Citizens were denied freedom of speech, press, assembly and association, and the government attempted to control all information.”

The country’s constitution calls for public trials, except under some circumstances, and says the accused has the right to a defense, but “there was no indication that independent, non-governmental defense lawyers existed,” the report said. 

KCNA, the North Korean news agency, said on previous occasions that the two reporters are allowed consular contact and their treatment was governed by international laws while the investigation was under way.The U.S. State Department said last month a Swedish diplomat was allowed to meet with the journalists. The department said previously it received information the journalists were being well treated.

Euna Lee was also detained. The State Department says it heard the pair were being treated well.

Euna Lee was also detained. The State Department says it heard the pair were being treated well.

Sorry for the delay!

May 7, 2009

Hey kids! Im really sorry its been a while since we’ve been in touch.  SPAANK has got a lot of stuff brewing so be on the look out.  First I would like to inform you guys about a Crossing screening going on tomorrow:  

Information: This Thursday, May 7th, 2009. seven o’clock at the Mosele
Salvatori Conference Center (adjecent to the Good Samaritan Hospital).
637 South Lucus Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90017

If you guys missed out on seeing the screening before, or if you want to see it again che-che-che che-che-check it out, wha-wha-wha-whats it all about!!  [For more information, holla at James Yi at]


Also, Thanks to Johnny Lee from BBQ Chicken Robot, I bring to your attention this article.  You should really che-che-che, che-che-check it out!!  Absolutely atrocious….

North Korea Bride Trafficking: When Escape Becomes Bondage

Kristin Butler Contributing Writer

May 7, 2009

The translator could never capture the experience behind Young-Ae Kim’s emotional words, but he tried.

“She was raised with the idea that you have one lasting marriage – never did she imagine that she would be married three times by the age of 30, and treated like an animal.

North Korean defector Young-Ae Kim’s told her story publically on April 29, along with Mi-Sun Bang, another woman whose account bears tragic resemblance to hers. Both women told reporters at the National Press Club a story that is becoming all too common among North Korean women. Both women were victims of “Bride Trafficking” – being bought and sold as wives for single Chinese men along the border between North Korea and China.

Mark Lagon, former U.S. Ambassador at Large for Combating Trafficking and now executive director of the Polaris Project on Human Trafficking, says that these women are “thrice victimized” – starved in North Korea, sexually exploited once they escape to China and tortured if they are repatriated to their home country.

Brides for Sale

Human trafficking “the fastest growing criminal industry in the world,” according to the Polaris Project. In China, years of the one child policy combined with centuries of disregard for girl-children has led to a literal market for refugee women.

Back in the mid-nineties, Tom Hilditch’s article, “A Holocaust of Little Girls,” captured the essence of a country where girls don’t matter.

“The birth of a girl has never been a cause for celebration in China,” he wrote, “and stories of peasant farmers drowning new born girls in buckets of water have been commonplace for centuries. Now, however, as a direct result of the one-child policy, the number of baby girls being abandoned, aborted, or dumped on orphanage steps is unprecedented.”

It’s not hard to connect the dots to where all of this has ended. The shortage of women in China is nothing less than a national disaster – in some rural areas Chinese men outnumber women by a 14 to 1 ratio, according to the U.S. Committee on Human Rights in North Korea. It is into these rural border areas that North Korean women, desperate to escape the starvation in their homeland, are arriving. For human traffickers, the situation could not be more ideal.

Translating Tears

Mi-Sun Bang cries as she tells of the day that she and her son and daughter attempted an escape from North Korea. The Tumen River ends the lives of many refugees – numerous bodies have been found along the shore. But for Mi-Sun Bang, there was no choice. Her husband had starved to death in 2002, and making the river escape to China was her only hope for survival. “We entered holding hands,” she recalls, “but we were all separated.” Miraculously, they survived the crossing.

But her troubles were far from over. Upon entry into China, Mi-Sun Bang fell prey to human traffickers operating on the border. She was sold for $585 to an older, disabled Chinese man, the first of several “husbands” that she would be sold to. The string of abuses and heartache that followed would be enough to crush anyone’s spirit. Her final husband, fourteen years her junior, demanded that she bear him a son. Soon afterwards, Mi-Sun Bang was turned into the authorities and arrested. She was sent back to North Korea, to the horrors of a labor camp.

Mi-Sun pauses at this point in her story, reflecting, trying to restrain her emotions. “There, people gave up on being human,” she says finally. She was beaten severely. She asks through her translator, “Would anyone like to see my wounds?” Small person that she is, Mi-Sun stands on a chair in the front of the room. She pulls up her skirt, revealing where literal chunks of flesh have been ripped from her leg. She walks with a limp today.

Driven by Desperation

A new report released by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea captures the firsthand accounts of over 70 trafficking victims. “The women who cross the border, more often than male refugees, tend to do so in the company of others,” the Lives for Sale report states, “Eighteen percent of those interviewed crossed the border with people whom they later came to realize were traffickers.”

But what about the women who made their escape without the “aid” of a trafficker? The Committee’s report emphasizes the likelihood that these women will be solicited immediately. “Almost from the moment they cross the border – and sometimes beginning in North Korea – refugee women are targeted by marriage brokers and pimps.”

The report concludes with a host of recommendations for China, North Korea, the United States and the international community. While calling on China to cease the repatriation of North Korean refugees, and North Korea to “undertake economic and agricultural reforms” and “decriminalize movement across the border,” the report urges the United States to “launch new initiatives to provide protection and assistance to North Korean women” along the border.

The plight of North Korean women sheds light on the larger issue of trafficking around the world. According to the U.S. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, over 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Trafficking occurs in 170 countries, all of which are profiled and ranked in the Office’s annual report. And in many cases, the victims themselves have recommendations. Mi-Sun Bang pleads for President Obama to ensure that no more North Korean women are sold like she was, “sold like livestock in China.”

With trafficking – modern day slavery – claiming nearly a million victims a year, each woman, man, and child has a story to tell. And the plight of North Korean brides-for-sale is no different. Each one has a unique and tragic tale of enslavement.

“They would not allow me to leave the house,” recounts one North Korean woman, “then someone from Yanji came to take me to Heilongjiange Province by train. Only when we arrived in a village in Heilongjiang did I hear I was going to be married.”

For the original article, go to:


Until next time, stay real.  

Updates for the day

April 9, 2009

I don’t know if you can consider this news but…

“(CNN) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il was reappointed Thursday as chairman of the National Defense Commission, which oversees the country’s military, according to the state-run news agency KCNA.

The election by the North Korean parliament was expected.”

Congrats Jong-Il, you’ve done it yet again.  Well anyway my roommate showed me this video of Little Jong-y making a public appearance for the first time in a while.  If you didn’t know he’s sick.  Probably very very sick.  There were rumors that he’s already dead but obviously… he’s not.  Thus he is able to make an appearance and…..clap.  Clap.  Sit.  Receive Praise.  Just a regular ol’ day for the big Jong-il


But dude, he’s lost a LOT of weight.  I honestly feel kind of mean saying this but his head looks way too heavy for his withered neck.  And his cheeks are deflated.  But he’s definitely still got his fro going on.  Can’t let his looks go completely to waste.  I heard Jong Il is really into his looks and buys only name brand sunglasses, always gets perms and etc.  Glad to know he’s (still) the Chairman of National Defense.