DPRK Human Rights & Refugee Advocacy Group


North to North Project

Ordinary Canadians cannot legally sponsor North Korean refugees, even if they wanted to. This is an unacceptable hole in our refugee settlement system that needs to be changed.

We urge the Canadian government to adopt a Private Sponsorship for Refugees-like resettlement program that would allow Canadians to sponsor North Korean refugees.


How does it work?

Through our proposed program, HanVoice, with help from private sponsors, would resettle 15-20 North Korean refugees per year.

While small in number, this program provides a sustainable mechanism for the long-term resettlement of North Korean refugees. 



As a short-term solution for North Korean defectors, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada should undertake to exercise his discretion under section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

This is to allow the entry into Canada of the most vulnerable North Korean defectors, such as those trapped in Thailand and other third countries, with particular attention to women and children.

This initiative should include a pilot project in Thailand to identity appropriate North Korean candidates for resettlement in Canada.


Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program allows Canadians to directly sponsor refugees by providing financial support, settlement assistance for a year.

Learn more about the program.

Since the beginning of the program, more than 270,000 refugees have been sponsored and resettled. Canada's PSR program is a model for the world.

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In 2016, HanVoice advocated for this program at the Senate. 


Fleeing North Korea, refugees face a long and arduous journey ahead.


Most North Koreans flee through the Chinese-North Korean border. However, China does not recognize any North Koreans as refugees. Rather, the Chinese authorities view North Koreans as economic migrants and as such, actively pursue their capture and repatriation. Upon return to their country, a North Korean faces certain torture, imprisonment, and even execution.

If the defector successfully escapes China and crosses the border in Thailand, they are detained by police for “illegal entry”, and transferred to detention facilities in Bangkok. Thailand does not allow North Korean refugees to settle in their country.

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NOvember 2017

“Even in South Korea, our journey didn’t end. Maybe the journey for freedom, but not the journey for a good life.”

Ellie Cha, Pioneer / Read Full Article.



After reaching South Korea, the journey doesn't end there.

A common language and culture do help in resettling North Korean refugees, who must adjust to the modern world. However, this does not mean this is easy. The outcomes and livelihood of North Koreans who have resettled in South Korea suggest a population facing significant challenges socially, economically, and psychologically – some refugees cite issues as such discrimination within South Korean society, as well as fear of discovery by North Korean infiltrators in South Korea, which includes the risk of reprisal to loved ones left in North Korea.

Here are some staggering statistics on North Koreans living in South Korea.

  • North Koreans males were found to be 10.1 cm shorter and 11 kg lighter than their South Korean counterparts. North Korean females were found to be 7.2 cm shorter and 3.8 kg lighter.

  • 2/3 of North Korean refugees suffer from PTSD symptoms, including a feeling of helplessness.

  • 53.5% of North Korean youth belong to a single parent household (relative to 8.6% of their South Korean counterparts).

There are no other options left.

United States?

North Koreans have been able to access the US asylum system ever since the North Korea Human Rights Act (NKHRA) was authorized in 2004. However, in just over a decade of efforts to assist North Korean refugees abroad, the US has admitted less than 200 North Korean refugees.


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There is clearly more that can and should be done.

At HanVoice, we are hopeful that Canada, and Canadians, can emerge as leaders in this regard and provide a voice for the vast majority of North Korean people that do not have one.

The establishment of the North Korean Resettlement Program is one important and feasible way for all Canadians, from public servant to private citizen, to collectively voice our concern and engage this longstanding crisis.

Click here for the full primer on the North Korean Resettlement Program Initiative.