SEOUL TRAIN

Underground Railroad


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Update

Filmmakers Jim Butterworth and Lisa Sleeth report on what has happened to the activists and refugees featured in SEOUL TRAIN, since they and Co-Director Aaron Lubarsky finished filming.

Three Asian men and two Asian women in suits smile, posed beneath a banner, outdoors; the man in the middle holds a child in pink tights
At the Kim Jong-il Genocide Exhibit in Seoul, November 2004: (L-R) Han-mi's mother Lee Sun-hee; her father Kim Kwan-chul; Rep. Kim Moon-soo, of the South Korea National Assembly, holding Han-mi; her grandmother Chung Kyong-suk and SK National Assembly Rep. Yoo Ki-june

A family of five: a young girl, a grandfather, grandmother and two adult women, sit closely together, affectionately posing for the camera.
Family photo taken in Seoul, April 2005: (L-R) Han Sul-hee, Philip Rhyu (Sul-hee's great uncle from Colorado Springs); Sul-hee's grandmother; her mother Rhyu Mi-hwa and Philip Rhyu's sister (Sul-hee's 2nd cousin)


Han-mi and family
Han-mi and her family now live happily in South Korea. They make occasional appearances, due to their unexpected celebrity, but they don't live in Seoul and generally stay out of the spotlight.

Nam Chun-mi and the other 12 North Korean refugees activist Chun Ki-won attempted to smuggle out of China
Nam Chun-mi was eight months pregnant in the film, and gave birth to a baby girl in a Chinese prison right after her capture. After eight months of imprisonment, two of the refugees, Han Sul-hee and her mother, Rhyu Mi-hwa, were released due to pressure on the Chinese by members of the U.S. Congress. A month later, the rest were forcibly repatriated back to North Korea, and it is believed that several have since perished. In fact, when last seen, one of the other women, Roh Myung-ok, was suffering from tuberculosis and was near death even before being sent back.

The MoFA Seven
Plain and simple, they’ve been wiped off the face of the earth. We’ve been unable to obtain any information, official or unofficial, about their fate. But because of the political and public nature of their act, it’s almost assured that they’re probably now dead, perhaps were even executed.

Chun Ki-won
Underground Railroad Activist

Chun has continued to rebuild his Underground Railroad networks, and has recently opened a liaison office in Washington, D.C.

Moon Kook-han
Underground Railroad Activist

Moon has really felt the weight of loss over the MoFA Seven. He has since created a traveling exhibit that portrays and documents the human rights violations perpetrated by the North Korean government.

Tim Peters
Underground Railroad Activist

Tim continues to send food aid to North Korea, and conducts various Underground Railroad activities. He recently had an incident in Bangkok where he tried to bring a North Korean refugee to both the U.S. Embassy and UNHCR, and was turned away from both (and testified to this before a House subcommittee).

Suzanne Scholte
Vice-Chairman, North Korea Freedom Coalition
Suzanne has the energy and drive of a dozen people; she’s completely relentless. She was extremely instrumental in the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act [2004], and continues to lobby on Capitol Hill on issues related to North Korea human rights and refugees.

Dr. Norbert Vollertsen
Underground Railroad Activist
Norbert was ordered to leave South Korea by the South Korean government by June of 2005, but was allowed to return in November. In addition to pursuing his uniquely public activism for North Koreans, he spent much of 2005 flying around the world providing emergency medical relief in tsunami, earthquake and other disaster zones.

Learn about the activists featured in SEOUL TRAIN >>

Learn more about the Underground Railroad >>

View a Timeline of South Korean politics >>

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