Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How To Help The North Koreans: What You Can Do

Life In North Korea from LiNK Global on Vimeo.

Many readers may not know that I am an American temporarily living in Seoul, South Korea and will move back to the states in May. I live a stone's throw from North Korea.

Consequently I have become hyper-aware of the plight of the North Koreans. I have also ridden the roller coaster of North Korean threats. Recently I have become more informed about what is really going on in North Korea and what I can do to help.

"In the mid-1990s, over a million people died in Korea and hardly anybody noticed. Millions starved, hundreds of thousands were imprisoned in concentration camps, and tens of thousands crossed borders seeking food, money, protection and even freedom that they never knew existed. That place was, and continues to be, a land with virtually no freedoms - of speech, assembly, religion, movement and more.

This is North Korea, and very little has changed since then."

You can help:

1. Become informed about the realities of North Korea today. Read the book The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot (see below). This book was written by two North Koreans defectors who lived in the concentration camps. It is the type of book that you can not put down. It will inform you about the many atrocities that are happening right now.

The Financial Times said, "A triumph against silence...The beaming Kim Jon-il is still in power and Yodok (North Korean concentration camp or Gulag) is still in existence, in full working order, at this moment. Just to read [this book] is an assault against these facts." It is part horror story, part memoir and part political tract. It is truly shocking that these things are happening right now.

2. Watch the DVD Seoul Train to witness what happens to the North Koreans in China. Many North Koreans die when trying to escape into China, and even if they do survive they have to live in hiding. If China finds North Koreans they are sold to the sex trade or sent back to the North Koreans where they are imprisoned or put in horrendous hard-labor concentration camps. They are starved and freezing (during the long winters) with little shelter and nothing to wear but rags. They are treated like animals.

3. Become involved with LINK. This American-based grass-roots movement supports orphaned North Korean and stateless children who have escaped into China, providing them with education, food, transportation and protection. In their Southeast Asia shelter, they assist refugees in their processing for resettlement to South Korea and the United States, and begin preparing and educating them during their wait.

LINK also raises awareness of the North Korean human rights and refugee crisis through national tours. They also provide opportunities to be directly involved in the issue through their local Chapters who focus on raising awareness in local communities, advocating and fundraising for LiNK's programs. 

As you look over LINK's website you can see many ways to help. You can:
  • Make a one-time or continuous donation- every little bit helps. (It costs about $2,500 to get a North Korean out of China). See here.
  • Wear LINK t-shirts or hoodies to help people learn about LINK and get involved. See here. Also shop here (30% is donated to LINK).
  • Create or join a local LINK chapter in your community, church, school or organization. See here.
  • Become a Nomad or Intern for LINK. See here and here.
  • Attend, host, or promote a screening of LINK's new movie Hiding. See here.
  • Use your talents to spread the word. See here.
  • Stay informed through Link's newsletter.
  • Create your own fundraiser and make a donation.
More recent news to read is here: North Korean escapees sold into sex slavery (also watch the video in the article). As awareness about North Korea grows, more and more DVDs on the subject are being made available for rent or direct streaming to your TV. Check them out!

Best book about North Korea concentration camps:

Also recommended reading:

When the majority of people are aware of and show they care about an issue- change happens.

Do your part and help to make a difference for thousands of hurting and desperate people.


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