My name is Andrea Escobedo and from the months of February to April of 2017, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR).
Being a recent graduate with a Master’s in International Relations, I had been looking for an opportunity that would lead me to challenge myself all the while allowing me to contribute – in whatever way possible – to a cause as important as that of North Korean Human Rights. When I received the NKHR’s acceptance letter, then, I packed my bag full of hope and motivation and left for Seoul. I could never have imagined how much I would learn and grow during my short time with the NGO.
As an intern with the Advocacy and Campaigns Team, I was led to carry out many interesting tasks so as to help raise awareness and shed light on the Human Rights situation in North Korea. I also had the opportunity of joining the NKHR’s Rescue Fund – an incredibly dynamic team made up of amazing individuals devoted to the rescuing of North Korean refugees – where I was able to help organize the NKHR’s Annual Fundraiser for Refugee Rescues. Both of my roles as Intern and Volunteer motivated me greatly and I remain extremely grateful to my bosses and fellow volunteers for all that they taught me in the process.
While both of the aforementioned opportunities were incredibly fulfilling, I believe that the experience that taught me and helped me grow the most was tutoring North Korean students. I had had experience with tutoring students in English before, but this was a completely different situation.
Having little to no knowledge of the Korean language, I was worried that I would have to find new ways to make the students feel comfortable and keep them engaged (thank you for the confidence boost, Google Translate!). I found out, however, that the students had an amazing drive to learn and that, in their earnest will to make their dreams come true, they were willing to work extremely hard. I truly believe that I learnt more from them than what I could ever have taught them. They showed me that your age, past or present situations and circumstances do not and cannot entirely define your capacity to dream and to chase after those dreams. I will never forget when, during one conversation with one particularly bright student, I asked him what he wanted to do later on in life. Flashing a huge grin at me, he said: “a Diplomat”. Sharing the same dream as him, I can only hope that he will find success, in whatever way that should come.
In short, my time at the NKHR allowed me to meet incredible humans – both those arduously at work to make this world a better place, and those seeking to chase after their dreams. I hope that this step in my young professional career will always remain with me as a reminder of all the great change that motivation and dedication to important causes can bring.
This year’s NKHR Rescue Fund Annual Fundraiser for North Korean refugee rescues deviated from the traditional method of the past few years. Instead of participating in a race along the Han River, volunteers elected to try something new: a crazy-sock themed dance party!
With any experimentation, there is always a bit of a learning curve. Although our team came short of our goal of $7,500 to assist in the rescues of three refugees, we learned a lot and were able to enlist the support of a different set of friends and community members.
For starters, use of the venue, Hongdae’s legendary Freebird Cosmic Live, was generously made available to our team at no charge, thanks to our friendship with the owner, Skyler Jeong. We also enlisted the help of four local up and coming djs, Baron van West, FALSEFACE, JISOO, and Mikey B, all of whom graciously agreed to contribute the soundtrack of our event in support of the work NKHR is doing. Our team was also lucky enough to secure a variety of top-notch prizes for our raffle from our friends at Magpie Brewing Co, Salt House, Yogiga Expression Gallery, Dear Korea, and more! It was wonderful to see so many people in our community excited to get involved.
Leading up to the event, NKHR staff, interns, and volunteers all sprang to action to get information about the event out to the public. We were lucky enough to be asked on TBS radio and featured on several online event sites; we also sent out a press release and executed an aggressive online campaign via our facebook networks. We created an online fundraising page through our Global Giving page so that our friends, family members, and far-flung supporters could participate. As a personal incentive for my own networks, I decided to draw thank-you portraits for each of my friends and family members who donated. While we are still accepting donations, I am happy to announce we have raised $1,132 so far!
As for the event itself, it was a smash hit! We danced and raffled the night away, raising 1,077,000won towards refugee rescues. It was truly an honor to work with the NKHR Rescue Fund volunteers Julie Costa, Tonya Bryant, and Parker Bot, and NKHR interns, Andrea Escobedo-Paiz and Cait Cronin, who gave their time and creative energies so passionately for the cause.
Throughout my involvement in the North Korean human rights movement, I have been grateful for the opportunity to become friends with a number of North Korean resettlers who have overcome great adversity and forged their own paths in South Korea and beyond. Our ultimate goal of each annual fundraiser is to come together as a community to provide similar opportunities to refugees still waiting for assistance in China, many in highly dangerous situations. We think of these individuals as friends we have yet to meet.
I am in awe of each of my friends and family members, our local and foreign supporters, and NKHR staff for all of their work to contribute to the success of our fundraiser; we could not have done it without you!
NKHR Rescue Fund is officially launching our annual fundraiser for North Korean refugee rescues!
If you are in Korea, please join us on April 22nd at our fundraiser Sockhop 'Til You Drop in Hongdae!
We have also created an online campaign on Global Giving so that friends and family anywhere can get involved!!
Our goal is to raise $7,500 to help three more individuals escaping North Korea reach safety in South Korea.
Our page on Global Giving is linked to contribute funds directly to the Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights' refugee campaign, which has been vetted and is tax-deductible for US citizens!
Sockhop 'Til You Drop attendees are in for some GREAT raffle prizes!
Check out these amazing RAFFLE PRIZES!!!
Host a one-day event or party for free at Yogiga Expression Gallery!
Sample amazing locally cured meats with this Salt House gift certificate!
On Saturday October 8th, the NKHR Rescue Fund was thrilled to join local Indie music guru Ali Safavi at DGBD in Hongdae for a night of performances, social awareness, and scrumptious treats-- all part of Safavi's two-day I Like Many II music festival. Rescue Fund volunteers spoke to the crowd, aggressively sold banana chocolate chip muffins, and staffed an information booth for audience members. All told, Ali and the group raised almost 400,000won toward refugee rescues! Thank you so much to all of the amazing performers and everyone who generously donated towards the cause.
More recently, on Saturday November 26, volunteers and NKHR staff held an awareness event on the issue of families separated by the Korean War. Attendees munched on ramen-flavored popcorn in the basement of HBC's Bedrock bar while watching a screening of J.P. Elliott's short artistic film "Orphans." Afterwards, not only was the director on hand to personally answer questions about his vision, but he was also joined by humanitarian law expert Dr. Choi Eun Bum for an extremely informative panel discussion and audience Q&A. Dr. Choi, member of a separated family himself, provided a unique and poignant perspective on how separation continues to affect relatives in different parts of Korea today. The event also doubled as a winter wear drive for North Korean refugees in hiding; attendees generously donated coats and sweaters, as well as funds for refugee rescues. Staff and volunteers were overjoyed by the response from the event and the number of individuals who expressed a desire to be involved with Rescue Fund activities in the future. Thank you for your support!
By Cait Cronin
They say you can never truly understand another person until you walk a mile in his or her shoes. Perhaps the same can be said about running. On June 12th, 2016, as the capstone event for a 2-month-long fundraising campaign, roughly 60 of us set out to find out exactly that—by joining the Kim Dae Jung Peace Marathon in Seoul to raise awareness for North Korean human rights.
Every year, thousands of North Korean refugees travel upwards of 10,000km south to escape human and sex trafficking in China. This year, our team of runner-fundraisers for Running 4 Resettlement collectively raised over ₩12,500,000 (roughly USD$10,700), enough money to decrease the risks of this dangerous journey for 4 resettlers to South Korea. And in a sign of togetherness, each of us completed a 2k, 5k, 10k, or half-marathon along the Han River.
But preparations for Running 4 Resettlement set off long before the actual race. After a complete revamp of our website in January, the next step was recruitment. By reaching out to an extensive network of fellow English teachers and students and advertising through social media, by late May NKHR’s Rescue Team had gathered a diverse group of participants from across the country, including 14 from the Jeolla provinces and 11 from Gyeongsang. Many of us with personal experience volunteering for resettlers were driven to sign up by our changed perceptions of North Koreans, whose kindness and passion for life and learning we have fallen in love with. Others were simply motivated by empathy for a vulnerable population of fellow humans needing our help. But all of us spent months asking friends, family, and anyone who would listen for donations to our individually-created fundraising webpages.
As with any fundraising effort, and, fittingly, with any athletic activity as well, one of R4R 2016’s main challenges was maintaining momentum. Worryingly, leading up to race day, we were well under our financial goal. However, in one final, powerful push, R4R runners united to send emails, post Facebook statuses, text, Kakao message, and directly request more contributions. As a team, we were able to raise USD$3,905 in the last week! All told, 96 donors helped us match the same fundraising total as in 2014, Running 4 Resettlement’s inaugural year. It was a fitting end to a campaign well-run, and the only thing left to do was, well, run.
Starting at 8am on race day, our runners turned out in full force to support the cause. After a team photo and group stretches, we set off in waves to run through Gangnam. It was a morning of smiles, cheers, both participation and victory medals, and most of all, a sense of community.
Surely it is impossible for any of us to truly understand what it is like for North Koreans who face untold abuse and fear after leaving their homes, who then survive a harrowing trek and numerous hurdles of resettling in South Korea. But by raising money and awareness for these important people, runners for R4R 2016 came together to give them recognition as just that: people.
The Rescue Fund is back with another fundraiser for North Korean refugee rescues!
On Sunday, September 25, from 5pm-8pm, we will be meeting at Neungla Bapsang (능라밥상), a restaurant featuring North Korean cuisine, to enjoy some delicious North Korean food while hearing a talk from a North Korean re-settler. Participants will also learn how to make North Korean rice cake. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience North Korean culture!
In 2015, Rescue Fund donations enabled the rescue of 13 North Korean refugees. Now it's your chance to be a part of these life-saving efforts!
**Reservation and Payment Information**
Spaces are limited to 45, so register soon!
Your space will be reserved only after you have submitted both the google form and payment.
Please make a reservation using the following Google Form:
After completing the form, please send 25,000 won per reservation using the following information:
Kookmin Bank (국민은행)
Account Number: 533301-01-119295
Account Holder: Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (북한인권시민연합)
IMPORTANT NOTE: PayPal accepts payment in US dollars only, and charges a commission.
Please pay in the amount of $25 per reservation.
In the event that you need to cancel your reservation and would like a refund, this option will be available only until Monday, September 12.
**Address and Directions**
Neungla Bapsang (능라밥상)
Kyungsan Building 2nd Floor
Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
DIRECTIONS: Upon coming out of exit 1 of Jongno 3-ga station, walk straight past Mr. Pizza and Holly's Coffee. At the intersection of the large road, turn right, and take your first right again--the restaurant will be on your left in the alleyway.
For more information about the Rescue Fund and how to be involved in this exciting work, please visit our website: nkhrrescuefund.org.
If you have any questions, please email NKHR at:
Running 4 Resettlement is a fundraising initiative devoted to raising money and awareness for the human rights situation in North Korea and rescuing refugees who are struggling in third countries.
Participants of R4R sign up to run in the Kim Dae Jung Peace Marathon, held on Sunday, June 12, and fundraise leading up to the day of the race.
Our contributions to Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights Rescue Fund (NKHR Rescue Fund) will enable NKHR to rescue as many lives as possible.
Please support us by giving to the general fund or to a specific runner here.
On Saturday, March 5, Rescue Fund volunteers hosted a fundraising event at Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon. At the door, attendees were invited to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win some amazing prizes from generous donors Zweiter Stock, Wink, Magpie Brewery, and Oak and Barley.
To kick-off the event, the Rescue Fund was honored to have North Korean resettler and art student, Chunguk, share his experiences and perspectives through an interactive Q&A session with the audience.
Headlining the event was hypnotist Gabriel Dye, who enchanted the audience with his hypnosis expertise and advice for achieving success while using hypnotic techniques in everyday life. Dye’s show was part comedy and part inspiration and fully entertaining. We highly recommend attending one of Dye’s shows; the next one is scheduled for March 26. You can find more information about the show at: https://www.facebook.com/seoulhypnosisshow/.
All told, the Rescue Fund raised 640,000won to use for refugee rescues! We’d like to express our gratitude to all who came and donated funds, to Chunguk for speaking, Haegun for interpretation, Rocky Mountain Tavern, Gabriel Dye, Wink, Magpie Brewery, Oak and Barley, and Zweiter Stock.
The Rescue Fund has a couple of upcoming events which they will be announcing soon, so please stay tuned for further opportunities to be a part of the Citizen Alliance for North Korean Human Rights’ life-changing work!
What do you run for?
NKHR Rescue Fund and the Running for Resettlement Team at the Kim Dae Jung Peace Marathon
By Ahee Kim, NKHR Campaign Team Intern
On July 12, 2015, the NKHR Rescue Fund and Running for Resettlement (R4R) Team ran the Kim Dae Jung Peace Marathon. Despite the stormy weather, Yeouido Park was crowded by 8:00 a.m. with dedicated runners. Our very own R4R runners included NKHR Director General Youngja Kim and North Korean resettler Sungju Lee.
The NKHR Rescue Fund and R4R Team was co-organized by NKHR Rescue Fund and Running 4 Resettlement. Former NKHR campaign team intern Sohee Khim headed the team as the Chief Coordinator. All runners who signed up to run on the R4R team were asked to individually raise at least 250 USD to be donated the NKHR Rescue Fund and used to rescue North Korean refugees. Nearly 90 people joined the R4R team, and together they raised over 17,000 USD for the Rescue Fund!
It was an honor to see where every runner’s motivation came from. For some, it was because they wanted to participate in their “first marathon in South Korea,” while for others it was to participate in their “first rescue event for North Korean refugees.” All of the runners were given a special R4R and NKHR race bib that said “Running for North Korean Refugees.” It delivered a meaningful message that we ought to remember the North Korean refugees who are desperately running for their freedom.
Although the North Korean Refugees who are currently risking their lives to escape will not receive these messages, the R4R Team participants who ran through a storm with wet shoes and clothes helped save the lives of seven refugees.
The journey of North Korean refugees begins with sneaking across the Tumen or Aprok (Yalu) rivers to reach China under the watch of border guards. In China, they risk repatriation if caught by Chinese authorities, or being trafficked for labor, sex, or marriage if they meet untrustworthy brokers. They are not protected by law until they reach a safe third country such as Thailand. Reaching a third country can require them to cross a river, trek through jungle or desert, or hike over mountains. It costs approximately 2,500 USD to help one North Korean refugee get safely from China to South Korea.
For me, now is the time to run with North Korean refugees. The NKHR Rescue Fund and R4R ran with encouragement, hope, and love for one another. We will keep on running for North Korean refugees!
What do you run for?
We are a group of volunteers fundraising for NKHR (Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights) to rescue