On Sunday 8th June, the NKHR Rescue Fund held a unique event at Haichi Hall, Myeong-dong. At this event, guests were treated to an exclusive screening of the documentary “Dear Pyongyang”. Directed by Yang Yong-hi, this documentary follows her own family and the struggles they face after her three brothers are ‘repatriated’ back to North Korea.
Her family are members of Chongyron, a pro-North Korea organization of ethnic Koreans living in Japan. Yang’s father, an ardent communist and one of the founding members of Chongyron, sent his three young sons ‘back’ to North Korea during a repatriation campaign that saw thousands of ethnic Koreans and some of their Japanese families ‘return’ to the Fatherland. As the youngest and the only girl, Yang remained in Japan.
The documentary outlined the problems the family faced upon their separation. As North Korea slid further into economic decline, the film depicts how her three brothers became increasingly dependent upon care packages sent by Yang’s parents. It also shows conversations with her father in the home and on several visits to Pyongyang, during which he discusses his ideological faith and regrets over his decision to break up the family. The footage shot inside of North Korea is also particularly eye opening.
Following the movie screening our guest speaker, Suryeon Lee, led an emotional but humorous Q&A. Her family were also members of Chongryon in Japan and returned to North Korea during the ‘homecoming’ movement in the years following the Korean War. Suryeon was born in North Korea and was raised alongside her family’s increasing regrets. She finally managed to escape to South Korea with her mother in 2006. Unfortunately, her father was captured and tortured for their escape and later died of his injuries. Her first-hand perspective and unique experiences made for a very interesting discussion, with many audience members offering thought-provoking questions.
Thanks to a wide turnout and generous contributions, this event raised ₩470,000! These donations bring us even closer to achieving this year’s goal of raising $15,000 to save 6 North Korean refugees and help them pass safely into South Korea.
Please keep up to date with the NKHR Rescue Fund website and facebook page to find out about our upcoming events. For summer 2014, we have some very exciting events planned and we look forward to seeing you all there!
By Eum Young Kyung -- a Rescue Fund volunteer
The NKHR Rescue Fund team held its first event “A Conversation with Eunju Kim, a Former North Korean Refugee” on February 20, 2014. The event was held at Bitter Sweet Sound café and bar in Hongdae from 8 to 10 p.m., and we took our successful first step towards achieving the goal of raising USD 15,000 for the whole year by raising approximately USD 300. We initially aimed at gathering about 30 people but about 40 people from a number of different countries – the United States, Germany, Taiwan and Singapore – attended the event. The event began with the audience’s big round of applause for Eunju, as there was an announcement that she graduated from Sogang University with BA in Chinese language and literature just one day before the event. Eunju shared experiences of her life back in North Korea, including her personal story of starving for five days and writing a letter to her mom when she was not around searching for food, as Eunju felt that she was really going to die from starvation. She also talked about the story of her father who died of starvation, as well as how her father’s friend died of malnutrition shortly after taking one of the foods on her father’s funeral table secretly to fill his empty stomach.
The second part of Eunju's talk was about how she arrived in South Korea. She concluded her speech by saying that North Korean refugees need moral rather than financial support in order for them to successfully adjust to their new life in South Korea. Her explanation about why North Koreans are not subverting the regime and how they are incapacitated from revolting against the government helped the audience gain a fresh perspective about human rights situation in North Korea. There was a Q&A session afterwards, followed by live music performance, and the audience also had a chance to have a casual chat and exchange their views on North Korean human right issues.
At our second fundraising event we are showing a documentary film “Kimjongilia.” Afterward, there will be a short talk by a former North Korean refugee followed by a Q&A session. This event will serve as a valuable opportunity for you to get your questions about North Korean human rights answered, so please feel free to join. It will take place on March 15, from 2 to 4 p.m., at Haechi Hall, Myeongdong. We look forward to seeing all of you!
Happy New Year! Here in Seoul, we celebrated the lunar new year (known in Korea as 설날) and rung in the Year of the Horse just last weekend. It was a time to enjoy our friends and families, reflect on what we accomplished last year, and set goals for the future. Our hearts were also with those in North Korea or on the run in China who were unable to share in one of the most important holidays in South Korea.
Now that the new year has officially begun, the NKHR Rescue Fund is back and ready for action! We recruited a bunch of passionate, smart, and fun new team members, and they're ready to hit the ground running. Our goal this year is to raise 15,000 USD (15 million Won) to rescue six refugees. Because of increasingly difficult circumstances in China, the cost of rescuing one North Korean refugee has risen to about 2,500 USD.
The Rescue Fund team is working hard to bring you its first event of 2014, and we're also exploring ways to increase our online presence. We'll be sure to update you on the blog and our facebook page.
In the meantime, please continue to support us by spreading the word about NKHR and the North Korean human rights crisis to your friends and families. As always, we accept donations through this website, and 100% of your donation will go directly toward rescuing refugees. Together, we know we can rescue at least 6 refugees this year! Every little bit counts.
Many thanks for your continued support, and stay tuned!
We are a group of volunteers fundraising for NKHR (Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights) to rescue