Refugee Rescues

We're helping North Koreans escape a brutal regime through a 3,000-mile secret rescue route

Update: Rescues are back!
The Danger
North Koreans are in danger right now
It’s illegal for North Koreans to leave the country without the regime’s permission. But every year North Koreans are risking their lives trying to escape.

They cross into China but they are still in danger.

The Chinese government arrests North Korean refugees and sends them back to the regime.
tortured for wanting to be free
If caught trying to escape or arrested in China and sent back, refugees can face extremely harsh punishments, including brutal beatings, forced labor, forced abortions, torture, and even internment in a political prison camp.
The Chinese police barged into the room and handcuffed all of us... We were returned to North Korea...My interrogator wanted me to confess to trying to defect to South Korea. I begged her to understand my situation but instead she grabbed my head and slammed it against a nail in the wall. I remember thinking as she took a fistful of my hair “Is this my fate?

– Jo Eun, rescued by LiNK on her 4th escape attempt
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sex trafficking
For North Korean women, there’s another danger: sex trafficking.

Instead of reaching safety, North Korean women can be trafficked into the sex industry or sold as brides within hours of leaving North Korea.

Learn More
For three days, the broker paraded me around villages in northern China and crowds of men gathered to bid on me. The broker finally found a man who was willing to pay enough for me. I was sold for $3,000.

– Joy Kim, rescued by LiNK
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North Korean refugees need to escape China to reach safety. But many refugees do not have the resources to make the 3,000-mile journey to a safe country in Southeast Asia.

That’s where we come in.

Rescuing Refugees Through Secret Rescue Routes

Our 3,000-mile secret rescue routes start in Northeast China and end once a North Korean refugee reaches Southeast Asia and is processed to safely travel to South Korea or the United States.

It’s a modern-day underground railroad.

Throughout their entire journey refugees are in constant danger of being arrested and repatriated. But our partners on the ground are there to ensure a refugee’s safety and dignity.

Watch undercover footage from real LiNK rescue missions
the impact you make possible

North Korean refugees rescued because of people like you

Joy was trafficked and sold as a bride after escaping North Korea. LiNK’s partners found her and helped her reach freedom.
Yoon Ha was 8 months pregnant and fleeing for her life. She was rescued and gave birth to her child in freedom.
JiHyung was only 1 year old when his family escaped. Now he’ll grow up in freedom because of donors like you.
was trafficked and sold as a bride after escaping North Korea. LiNK’s partners found her and helped her reach freedom.
Yoon Ha
was 8 months pregnant and fleeing for her life. She was rescued and gave birth to her child in freedom.

North Korean Refugees Rescued

*includes children born in China


Reunited With Family


North Koreans Rescued in 2020

It costs $3,000* to help a North Korean refugee travel from Northern China to safety in South East Asia

Here are tangible ways you can help

Food for a day

Covers the cost of food for a North Korean refugee for one day of their dangerous journey

Rescue phone

Equip a refugee with a rescue phone so they can be in constant contact with our team, helping ensure their safety

Safe shelter for a family

Provide a family of four with safe shelter for a night in China

The Free Passage Model

We rescue North Korean refugees without cost or condition. The free passage model ensures that refugees are treated with dignity and respect throughout the dangerous journey, and allows them to begin their new lives in freedom without the burden of repaying thousands of dollars to brokers for helping them escape.

*The Changing Costs of A Rescue

The cost of rescues varies on where a North Korean refugee begins their journey. The closer they are to the North Korean border when our partners find them, the greater the cost because of heightened security and increased travel time. A generous foundation funds these high-risk extractions from the border region.

Who does LiNK work with in the field?
In China and Southeast Asia, we work with brokers/guides and partners before they meet our staff at the end of the journey in Southeast Asia. For their safety and the security of our routes, we cannot reveal their identities.
How long does a rescue mission take?
Days. In order to protect the security of our rescue route we cannot provide an exact time frame.
How does LiNK maintain the safety of this work?
We take the security of our field work very seriously, and together with our well-established partners and staff, we have significant experience on the ground. In addition, none of the work that we do in China is done under LiNK's name - even the refugees we work with do not know who we are until a later time.
Where do you operate in Southeast Asia?
Sharing this information could compromise the route, and the safety and security of the refugees we work with.
How do refugees find LiNK?
They're usually referred to LiNK by their friends/family who have already resettled or by our partners who meet them in China.
Does LiNK traffick people?
No, refugees have made the decision to participate in the journey and are always given the option before moving forward.
Does LiNK rescue people directly from North Korea?
LiNK works with North Korean refugees who have already crossed into China.
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