Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board has rejected the asylum case of a North Korean dissident even though the board agrees the man will likely be executed for treason if deported to his homeland.

The IRB has allowed the man's six-year-old son to remain in Canada, because as the son of a dissident he would face persecution, while a removal order has been issued for his father, his only living parent.

Song Dae Ri, a trade official, was posted to North Korea's embassy in Beijing before he defected to Canada with his son and wife in August, 2001. His wife was lured home by her parents before she had a chance to make a refugee claim, and in April, 2002, was executed in North Korea.

"When I came to Canada, I was relieved to have escaped alive. Now I fear I will die and my son will be an orphan here. It is so terrible," said Mr. Ri, shredding a tissue in his long, thin fingers and weeping as he cast a glance at his cherubic-faced son, Chang-Il, seated beside him playing with his GameBoy.

IRB member Bonnie Milliner ruled that Mr. Ri will likely be executed for treason if returned home, but said he was not "deserving of Canada's protection" because he was complicit in crimes against humanity merely for being a member of Kim Jong-il's government. She made that ruling despite written assurances from Canada's War Crimes Unit that Mr. Ri was "not a person of interest to them" and that there was no evidence he had committed crimes against humanity.

"While [Mr. Ri] may not have personally committed any atrocities, I believe that on a balance of probabilities he was aware of the North Korean government's excesses . . . and waited 10 years [to leave]," she concluded in her September, 2003, decision. "He was a high-level North Korean government official with weighty responsibilities."

He has decided to go public with his story because he fears being deported.

The case offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive, authoritarian regime of Kim Jong-Il, known as the Dear Leader, from which few people escape. In the past seven years, 35 North Koreans have applied for refugee status in Canada and just two have been granted asylum.

This week, the country was accused of killing political prisoners in experimental gas chambers and testing new chemical weapons on women and children. North Korea is also known to have developed a nuclear arsenal, although Mr. Ri says he has no knowledge of this.

CSIS agents have approached Mr. Ri, a former trade official, on several occasions, and he says he will meet with them once his case is resolved. He fears North Korean agents may attempt to track him down in Canada and assassinate him. That is why he does not want a photo that shows his face in the paper and why he lives in seclusion in Toronto.

Ms. Milliner observed that North Korea is one of the world's most repressive regimes, bringing misery to its people through dictatorial control and subjugation. The country's criminal code specifies that all those who engage in espionage or treason will be executed, and that the families of political prisoners "must be wiped out for three generations" to come. She suggested Mr. Ri avail himself of "other Canadian remedies" in an attempt to stay in Canada, an apparent reference to a humanitarian and compassionate appeal.

Ms. Milliner questioned why Mr. Ri failed to dissociate himself from government abuses at the first available opportunity, and defected only when he feared his own life was in danger.

Mr. Ri, who bows politely in greeting and wears a black turtleneck and tailored dark suit, believes the IRB completely misunderstood his case. "I have been made a political scapegoat."

He said he was not a high-ranking diplomat, but a low-level trade official, No. 7 million in the North Korean government hierarchy. Four years ago, he was posted to North Korea's embassy in China, and sold commodities to raise hard currency for his country.

"The IRB talks about human-rights abuses. But all I ever did was try to help my people by buying wheat to feed the people," he said.

He and his colleagues lived under a complicated surveillance system in Beijing and were prohibited from living outside the North Korean compound, or from conversing with anyone other than on business. Security personnel spied on him.

"An escape is as difficult as a camel goes through the eye of a needle . . . due to the surveillance accompanying me and in fear for the family members left in North Korea," he said.

He learned of the freedoms of the outside world while on business trips, and made the fatal mistake of sharing his observations with other North Korean officials, opening himself to accusations of treason.

The "trigger" event leading to his defection was witnessing the mistreatment of North Koreans who had escaped to China in search of asylum, only to be recaptured and returned.

His refugee claim also notes that he was accused of "leaking confidential military and state information" to Chinese officials, which he said is untrue.

Through business contacts, he managed to obtain South Korean passports for himself, his wife and their young son, and they fled to Canada on Aug. 22, 2001.

He made a refugee claim four months later.

His son, who goes by the name Joshua now, is fluent in English, as well as Korean, Japanese and Chinese. He is in Grade 1 and recently received a coloured pencil for good performance. Joshua translates for his father and "tries to cheer him up," he said.

His mother fared less well in Canada. Her family had close ties with North Korea's leadership and she was unable to reconcile the betrayal of her family and homeland.

She attempted suicide before finally leaving Canada in December, 2001. She flew to Taiwan and then was taken to Pyongyang, where she was executed in April, 2002.

Mr. Ri's father was executed by the Korean government, and the IRB didn't understand why Mr. Ri failed to mention that, and the fact that his wife was executed. Mr. Ri explained that he was too frightened to mention his wife's execution until he had proof she was dead. He waited to seek asylum for fear the South Korean press would publicize his case and his relatives in Pyongyang would suffer the consequences.

The local South Korean community have taken up Mr. Ri's cause. Several thousand people, including business, community and church leaders and the publisher of the Korean Times Daily, have written letters of support and signed petitions imploring the Canadian government to allow Mr. Ri to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

"His situation is part of the historical legacy left by the division of North and South Korea in 1948," one letter reads.

Robert Moorhouse, who filed the humanitarian and compassionate review last year, notes that if his client is sent back to China, he will be repatriated to North Korea, because China's government expels all North Koreans without allowing them to seek asylum.

"My client is very worried and is living as an unprotected person in Canada now," he said. "He deserves asylum."

Mr. Ri adds, "I want to be alive and settle in Canada with my son."

Then he begins to weep again, while his son sits at his side playing with his GameBoy, smiling up at his father.


Állandó Tag
Now you understand why my certificate to appoint me to the refugee board is hanging above the toilet seat. By the way, I refused to obbey a direct order that would have sent someone back to a counrtry, where the claimant faced execution for his action.

I personally would send every immigration officers, and IRB members to a place, where they could enjoy such a regime and gain first hand experience what it means to be persecuted. Only for six months but I would not tell them that it woud be that short. Let them learn to live in limbo for a while.


Állandó Tag

én tettem be a cikket.
egyszerüen felháborito.
Kanada szégyene. Nem tudom megérteni, hogy tudnak ilyen itéletet hozni.
Remélem még lessz valamilyen kiut ennek a szerencsétlen embernek.


Állandó Tag
Spanky, gondoltam. Még van módja fellebeznie a Federal Courtra. Az legalább add neki egy kis idöt. Sajnos, ismerem a mentalitást, eleget hadakoztam ellene, amig ennek az illusztris társaságnak voltam tagja.

Nade mit várjunk egy olyan társaságtól, amelyiknek egyik vezetöje már 1989-ben megmondta, hogy Kinában demokrácia van és ezt onnan tudja, mert egy vacsorán egy szimpatikus kinai diplomata mondta ezt a szenátor férjének.

Nomeg négy év munkatábor Kinában nem számit üldöztetésnek, mert nem életveszélyes. Azonkivül is ez egy normális dolog a kommunista Kinában, tehát akik oda kerülnek csupán rutinból kerülnek de nem voltak származásuk, vagy politikai véleméynük miatt kiválasztva erre a büntetésre.

Ha találsz benne elfogadható logikát, akkor szoljál és elismerem, hogy akkor az én értelmezésemben volt a hiba.


Állandó Tag
Nem elég a bevándorlo hivatalnak,hogy ez a szerencsétlen élve kijött Eszak-Koreábol? Akkor ki az "igazi" menekült ha nem egy ilyen? Tudjuk mi folyik ott.... összes ilyen határozathozo bürokratára....


Állandó Tag
"In the past seven years, 35 North Koreans have applied for refugee status in Canada and just two have been granted asylum."

Hat szerinem kicsit melyebre megy ez a dolog. Eltudom kepzelni hogy van valami erdeki megallapodas a ket orszag kozott es Kanada nem akarja magara zuditani N. Korea fomiskasok haragjat :(


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), 8 January 2003

A former trade diplomat for North Korea has been hiding for a year in Toronto
and is asking for refugee status in Canada, CBC News has learned. Song Dae
Ri flew from Beijing to Toronto in September 2001 and hid in the city's South
Korean community with his wife and four-year-old son. A few months later, a
government translator leaked Song's desire to live a freer life in Canada to the
Korean press. Song went into hiding until his refugee case is resolved.

Those who helped him say the 35-year-old didn't talk about his past as a trade
official in Beijing or as an ambassador to Moscow. Agents with the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service want to talk with Song but he won't do that until his
refugee hearing. He's also afraid to talk to North Korean authorities. Song's
case is going to a hearing soon, just as his country faces allegations of
developing a nuclear arsenal. Some say his case could embarrass North Korea.
"It could be interpreted by North Korea -- or by the Canadian government, I
don't know -- as a political defection," said Bryan Kim, the head of several
Korean community associations in Toronto. Kim said he believes Song came to
Canada for economic reasons, not political ones. Tens of thousands of North
Koreans have fled their impoverished country to go to China in recent years.
Only one has been accepted as a refugee in Canada. The Immigration Refugee
Board won't talk about Song's case. Officials said they cannot comment about
individuals seeking refugee status in Canada.
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