On Saturday, April 25, NKHR Rescue Fund partnered with the Halluwood Film Club to hold a screening of the award-winning film “The Defector,” which follows human smugglers as they lead refugees escaping North Korea. Following the film, Eun Jeong Kim, a North Korean resettler, spoke about her experience and answered questions from the audience.
In “The Defector,” director Ann Shin goes undercover to follow three North Korean individuals as they follow a smuggler to safety through China. The film explored universal questions about human rights, smuggling, and the pursuit of freedom.
Eun Jeong, a student at a university in Seoul, spoke about the journey she had made at the age of 15. She confirmed that broker fees and fear of repatriation prevented many from even attempting to escape, and many are overburdened by debt once they reach South Korea. However, Eun Jeong acknowledged the need for such smugglers to navigate the dangers of the journey, and advocated for clear communication and understanding between the brokers and refugees.
Thank you for your support these past few months, and make sure to be on the lookout for future events with the Rescue Fund!
Join us for a special screening of 'The Defector' and a discussion with a North Korean resettler. This suspenseful documentary, filmed undercover by award-winning Korean-Canadian filmmaker Ann Shin, follows a human smugglers leading defectors escaping North Korea. Their perilous journey reflects the reality of tens of thousands of North Koreans currently in hiding in China.
Ann Shin illuminates her intimate access with three North Korean individuals in this POV film and explores universal questions about human rights, smuggling and the pursuit of freedom. The film was recently awarded Best Documentary and Best Documentary Director at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards (Canada's Academy Awards). The documentary trailer and more information about the film can be found the official movie website here: http://www.thedefectormovie.com/
Following the screening, there will be a discussion and Q&A session with a North Korean resettler who recently made a journey through China to South Korea, as documented in the film.
*All NKHR Rescue Fund events directly fund the rescue of North Korean refugees. 100% of your donation will be used to help North Korean refugees reach South Korea safely. For more information about the Rescue Fund, visit our website: http://www.nkhrrescuefund.org/.
Entry Fee: Free, with a suggested donation of 10,000.
Receive a set of coffee mugs as a thank you gift with an additional donation of 10,000 won or more.
When: Saturday, April 25, 1:00pm-3:30pm
Where: Chungshin Girls School, Kim Maria Building
(Annie Ellers Hall)
1st Floor Auditorium
Sports Complex Station (Line 2, Exit 3)
By Sohee Khim, NKHR intern and volunteer
On Saturday April 11, 2015, NKHR Rescue Fund hosted director Kim Gyoo-min for a screening of his film ‘Winter Butterfly’ and discussion of the film.
‘Winter Butterfly’ portrayed a young boy Jin-ho and his mother struggling to survive in a small village in North Korea. The two scrape together a living by collecting dead wood and selling it in the marketplace. The film followed the mother and son as they spiraled into despair. For some, the ending was unsettling.
Guests were shocked to find out that the jarring movie was based on a true story. Kim explained that he had chosen this particular experience out of countless others as the subject of his film because it was one he had personally witnessed.
During the Q&A session after the screening, Kim spoke about everything from life in North Korea, his escape, repatriation from China, and adjusting to a life of freedom in South Korea. Members of the audience asked insightful questions about how to help North Koreans who are resettling in South Korea, and how best we can provide food aid to North Korea when, in the past, aid was diverted to the military and the elite. Kim's answers were hopeful that life for North Koreans would improve in the future.
We look forward to seeing everyone again at our next event on April 25, a film screening of The Defector, and Q&A with a North Korean resettler. The event will be at Chungshin Girls School in Jamsil. More information available below and on Facebook.
What: Join us for a special screening and discussion with the director of the film Winter Butterfly. The director, Kim Gyoo-min, is from North Korea. The film portrays the severe food shortages people face in North Korea. Don't miss this special opportunity to gain Kim Gyoo-min's insight into his film and life in North Korea.
When: Saturday, April 11, 1:00pm-3:30pm
Where: ROOM 201, YOUNG DONG PLAZA, SEOCHO 4 DONG
서울 서초구 서초4동 1310-5 영동플라자 201호
About the Film: 'Winter Butterfly' follows the life of a mother and son who live on the edge of North Korean society, barely scraping by and getting enough to eat by collecting and selling wood. The film follows the pair as they spiral into despair. (Warning: Some viewers may find parts of the film disturbing.)
'Winter Butterfly' is based on lives Kim Gyoo-min personally witnessed in North Korea. Kim is one of only a few film directors who are from North Korea. Winter Butterfly has been screened at the United Nations.
Entry Fee: Free, with a suggested donation of 10,000. Receive a set of coffee mugs as a thank you gift with an additional donation of 10,000 won or more.
*All NKHR Rescue Fund events directly fund the rescue of North Korean refugees. 100% of your donation will be used to help North Korean defectors reach South Korea safely.
Directions: Come out of Gangnam Station, exit 10, and walk straight. Take the first left (at Marley Coffee). Walk straight until you reach Seoun-ro (an elementary school will be on your right). Turn right on Seoun-ro, then walk walk straight past the elementary school. The building Yong dong Plaza (영동플라자) be on your right after the elementary school.
By Felix Jehle, NKHR Volunteer and Intern
Most of the approximately 50 people who attended NKHR Rescue Fund’s most recent event on Friday, February 27 left the Rocky Mountain Tavern in Itaewon with smiles on their faces and fond memories of an evening filled with stories and festivities.
At the beginning of the event, they listened to the story of North Korean escapee Sungju Lee, who gave an emotional, yet informative and intriguing account of his survival story. The 27 year old captivated the audience. As both of his parents left North Korea before he did, he was confronted with the life of a kkotjebi (or homeless boy) and was forced to endure many hardships until he eventually attempted the risky escape himself and arrived in South Korea in 2002. He explained, “When I was on the plane from China, I knew I was going to a place called “Hanguk,” but I thought Hanguk was just another city in China. I had no idea that it was actually what South Koreans call South Korea.” More than a decade after his departure from the North, Sungju is not only well-integrated into South Korean society, but has also recently finished an internship as an assistant to a legislature in Canada.
During the second part of the event, the members in the audience were distributed into ten groups for an exciting adaptation of the popular game “Two Truths and a Lie.” Each group was provided with two true propaganda facts about North Korea, and subsequently had to come up with a credible propagandistic “lie” that the other groups would hopefully believe. The ten groups listened to statements about Kim Jong-Il climbing Mount Paektu when he first learned to walk, writing more than 1,500 books throughout his time at university, and scoring 11 holes-in-one after first picking up golf. The winning group, selected by means of a tie-breaker question, received a pitcher of beer donated by the great Rocky Mountain Tavern and a selection of vegan and gluten-free snacks from Plant Bakery in Itaewon.
In addition to the prizes for the winning team, each of the attendees had the chance to participate in a raffle. Among the many great prizes were gift vouchers, t-shirts, beer pitchers, and USB sticks. As such, NKHR would like to thank everyone for their interest in North Korean issues and for their generous donations. We are proud to announce that we were able to raise around 600,000 KRW (roughly 550 USD), which will be used to help North Korean defectors on their difficult journey to South Korea.
We would like to thank our many donors, without whom we would not have been able to host our raffle. Apart from Mike’s Cabin, Plant, Craftworks Tabhouse, Phil’s Korean Computer Repository, Phillies Pub, and the Beastro. We also extend our deepest gratitude to the Rocky Mountain Tavern for providing us with a great venue, accommodating our event so well, and graciously providing us with gifts for the attendees.
What Can We Do To Change North Korea?
An Afternoon with Shin Dong-hyuk: The Only Known Person to Escape a Total Control Zone
By Ji Hyun Park, NKHR Volunteer and Intern
“The North Korean government is not afraid of what I have to say. What the North Korean government is afraid of is how you will react to what I tell you. Will you believe me? And if so, will you do anything about it?”
On Saturday December 20, 2014, the NKHR Rescue Fund once again partnered with the Hallyuwood Film Club to hold its last event of 2014: “An Afternoon with Shin Dong-hyuk: ‘The Only Known Person to Escape a Total Control Zone.’” The event—which was held at the Chungshin Girls Middle School in Jamsil, Seoul—began with a talk and Q&A with Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known person born and raised in a “total control zone” prison camp in North Korea to have escaped. He is currently one of the strongest voices against human rights violations in North Korea. The event concluded with a screening of the documentary “Camp 14: Total Control Zone,” which recounts Shin’s experience inside and his escape from the prison camp.
The event nearly packed the house. About 200 people from all over the world came to spend the afternoon with Shin. To this audience of students and professionals, of South Koreans and foreigners, Shin contrasted his own powerlessness to the huge influence of the members of the international community. Referring to himself, Shin said that the weak could not help the weak; whereas the strong could give hope to the weak.
Shin also noted with regret the lack of international—especially popular, celebrity-endorsed—attention the human rights issues of North Korea has received. Alluding to historical genocides, Shin warned that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, of standing aside as innocent people are killed by millions. Whether it’s protesting on the streets, boycotting North Korean tourism, or writing letters to authorities, we should send a message to the North Korean regime: that they cannot kill as they wish. Once again Shin emphasized the importance of international community in lending its voice to the voiceless in North Korea.
After the talk and Q&A with Shin, the audience watched the documentary with renewed interest, as Shin’s message of the importance of their role in North Korean human rights began to sink in.
The event was a meaningful and successful close of 2014 for NKHR Rescue Fund, and we thank you for being a part of it! Because of your generous donations, we were able to raise nearly KRW 2,400,000!
By Sohee Khim, NKHR Volunteer and Intern
On Thursday, November 6, the NKHR Rescue Fund team held a hunger banquet to raise awareness about hunger, food insecurity and social inequality in North Korea. The event was hosted at Neungla Bapsang (능라밥상) in Jongno, a restaurant owned by a North Korean defector that serves North Korean cuisine. Neungla Bapsang employs other North Korean defectors and regularly donates a part of its profits to fund scholarships that help other defectors.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the 3 songbun (social classes) of North Korean society with a false identity—hostile, wavering or core. The dinner they received corresponded to their class. The hostile class only received two potato dumplings each, the wavering a bowl of bibimbap, and the core a bowl of meat soup with rice. Guests were able to discuss their characters’ stories and observe their differences over dinner; people in the hostile class were also given NKHR Food Aid comprised of Choco Pies, modeled after the United Nations food aid that has been distributed in North Korea for the past few decades. Participants were assigned seats at the same table as others who were of different classes as they so that they could experience firsthand how the wide gaps in social status affects daily life in North Korea. Participants were visibly shocked that the social inequality produces such vast inequalities in the type of food people in North Korea can access; however, the shock gave way to camaraderie as unlike in North Korea, many participants of the core and wavering classes readily and willingly shared their meals with those in the hostile class.
After dinner, we invited Kim Eun Jeong (김은정), a young woman who escaped North Korea at the age of 15, to speak to the group. Ms. Kim also took questions from guests, conducted a Q&A session where people were able to learn more about the food shortages in North Korea. It was evident that many people were shocked and moved as she discussed the hardships she had faced and described the mass suffering she had observed during her childhood in North Korea.
During the event, we also held a raffle with a variety of prizes, all of which were generously donated by the NKHR office and businesses in Seoul.
Thanks to the generous donations of the guests, the NKHR Rescue Fund raised over 700,000 Korean won (roughly USD 700) at the Hunger Banquet. We would also like to thank Neungla Bapsang for hosting and accommodating us, as well as Plant Bakery, Café San Damiano, Magpie Brewery and The Beastro for their generous contributions to the raffle.
Thanks to the generous support of the Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) Rescue Fund, we are halfway to our 2014 fundraising goal and recently rescued four North Korean refugees!
We would like take a moment to share their stories with you. Safety concerns prevent us from divulging any identifying information about refugees, including photos or their real names.
Sunbok and her two daughters
Sunbok was born and raised in the North Hamgyong Province of North Korea. Her husband was born in Pyongyang, but was purged with his family when he was young. Since then, he worked hard in hopes of one day returning to Pyongyang with Sunbok and their two daughters. But that day never came. In May 2013, Sunbok’s husband was arrested by North Korean police and likely executed. Sunbok was never told what her husband had done wrong.
In North Korea, there is a guilt-by-association system which allows for punishment of the family members of the accused. Fearing for their lives, Sunbok decided that she and her daughters needed to escape North Korea. Because of the nature of her husband’s disappearance, Sunbok felt it was the only way they could survive. She instructed her eldest daughter Eunju to escape first and meet Sunbok at their relatives’ home in China.
Shortly after Eunju left, Sunbok and her 18-year-old daughter, Eunhwa, crossed the heavily guarded border of North Korea and China, the Tumen River. The day before their escape, Sunbok and Eunhwa hid in the mountains waiting for an opportune moment. At 3:00 a.m., when it began raining, Sunbok firmly took Eunhwa’s hand and ran across the shallow river.
Fortunately, Sunbok and Eunhwa safely reached their relatives’ home in China. Eunju, however, was not there. Since leaving her mother and sister in North Korea, Eunju had not been heard from.
Because Sunbok and Eunhwa arrived in China with little money, they had no safe way to reach South Korea on their own. Being female, they were at high risk of being sexually trafficked. Eunju’s disappearance also put them at increased risk of being caught and repatriated by Chinese authorities. But with your generous donations, NKHR was able to bring Sunbok and Eunhwa to South Korea quickly and safely. They continue to remain hopeful that they will find Eunju and that she will soon join them.
Hyang and her young son
Until she was 26 years old, Hyang worked for a mine in the Ryanggang Province of North Korea. Her father had been purged from Pyongyang, but in hopes of one day returning to the capital, he worked hard and attended every event hosted by the government. Despite his efforts, Hyang’s father was sentenced to three years in a prison camp for being deemed disloyal to the country. He passed away during his first year due to hard labor.
After her father’s imprisonment, Hyang’s mother began to suffer from chronic heart and lung disease. Hyang’s income, however, could not cover the costs of her mother’s medical treatment and provide enough food for the family. As a result, she enthusiastically accepted her friend’s offer for work in China. After telling her mother that she would be back soon, she crossed the Tumen River into China, only to find that her friend had sold her to a sex trafficker.
The trafficker sold Hyang to a farmer in rural China, whom she was forced to live with. She was forced to work on his farm and maintain the household. Hyang soon birthed a son. But as the son of a North Korean woman without legal status in China, he was a stateless child and was denied access to education and other government services. Once she realized that there would be no hope for her son if they stayed in the village, she took her 6-year-old son and escaped. Because of the risk that Hyang would be trafficked again, NKHR was contacted for assistance. With your help, NKHR was able to bring Hyang and her son to South Korea safely.
These rescues would not have been possible without your generous support. On behalf of Sunbok, Eunhwa, Hyang, and Hyang’s young son, we sincerely thank you.
But remember, our work is not done yet—there are still countless others who need help. Even after escaping North Korea, desperate mothers like Sunbok and Hyang live each day in fear of being sexually trafficked or caught by Chinese authorities. That is why donations like yours are so important.
Please consider making an additional contribution to help the Rescue Fund reach its goal of raising 15 million South Korean Won (roughly USD 15,000) this year. Visit the Rescue Fund website for more information.
Thank you for your continued support,
Volunteers and Staff at the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights
Experience a glimpse of the inequality and food shortage in North Korea while helping to save the lives of North Korean refugees! Hear firsthand from a North Korean escapee about what life, and extreme hunger, was really like in North Korea.
What: Hunger Banquet for North Korean Human Rights, featuring a talk by a North Korean escapee
When: November 6 (Thursday), 7 PM
Where: Neungla Babsang (능라밥상) -- A traditional North Korean cuisine restaurant (Address and more information below)
RSVP required by November 1!
What is a Hunger Banquet?
The NKHR Hunger Banquet will bring awareness about hunger, food insecurity and social inequality in North Korea. It is a dramatization of North Korea’s food distribution system, the Public Distribution System, and caste system, Songbun. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of North Korea's three social classes and served a meal that corresponds to their assigned identity and social class. By participating in the banquet, guests will get a glimpse of the reclusive North Korean society and experience directly how the regime has been violating even the most basic human rights, such as right to food.
NOTE: Some participants will be placed in the lowest class and will not receive a full meal. The idea is to replicate what someone in North Korea of that class might eat and illustrate the extreme inequality.
A raffle for dessert and prizes will also take place during the banquet.
Like all Rescue Fund events, the Hunger Banquet is a fundraiser for North Korean refugees. All proceeds will be used to rescue North Koreans in China who need assistance reaching South Korea safely.
What is Neungla Bapsang (능라밥상)?
Neungla Bapsang (능라밥상), a restaurant in Jongno that specializes in authentic North Korean cuisine. It is run by Dr. Ae-ran Lee, the first North Korean female defector to earn a doctoral degree. Dr. Lee escaped North Korea in 1997 and founded the North Korea Traditional Culinary and Culture Institute (북한전통음식문화연구원) in 2008. The restaurant opened in 2012, making authentic North Korean food widely available to the South Korean public.
RSVP and Entry Fee:
Early Bird Registration by Oct. 26: 13,000 Won (receive a free raffle ticket)
Regular Registration by Nov. 1: 15,000 Won
RSVP here: http://goo.gl/forms/P3ST5Mfcbd
RSVP AND PAYMENT ARE REQUIRED PRIOR TO THE EVENT.
How can I pay?
Wire transfer or Paypal
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.
If you pay through PayPal:
Early Bird Registration: USD 15.00
Regular Registration: USD 17.00
능라밥상 – 북한전통음식문화연구원
서울특별시 종로구 낙원동 197-1 경산빌딩 2층
Neungla Babsang - North Korea Traditional Culinary and Culture Institute
Kyungsan Building 2nd Floor, 197-1, Nagwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
For any inquiries, contact us NKHRrescuefund@gmail.com
All NKHR Rescue Fund events directly fund the rescue of North Korean refugees. 100% of your donation will be used to help North Korean defectors reach South Korea safely.
By Eleanor Yoon, NKHR Volunteer and Intern
On Wednesday September 3, 2014, the NKHR Rescue Fund held a fun night of trivia, raffle and Q&A with North Korean escapee and activist Yeonmi Park. Hosted at the awesome Phillies Pub in Haebangchon, the event was a great opportunity to reach out to a new crowd and raise funds in a fun and casual setting.
Yeonmi Park began the night by sharing her compelling story with the audience. Yeonmi, who escaped North Korea in 2007 and arrived in South Korea through China and Mongolia two years later, now lives in Seoul and has been actively engaged in raising awareness of North Korean human rights violations by giving speeches in both Korean and English, participating in a television program “Now on My Way to Meet You” and co-hosting the “Casey Lartigue Show with Yeonmi Park”, a podcast program. After listening to her powerful story, the crowd participated in a trivia game. All the 60 questions were written about topics related to North Korea, such as North Korean defectors, history and food, and they provided an opportunity for people to learn more about the country. The first and second place winners were announced at the end of the night and were awarded prizes donated by the generous Phillies Pub.
Thanks to your generous contributions, the NKHR Rescue Fund raised 815,000 KRW or $800 in total! We would like to thank everyone who came to the event and showed support for North Korean refugees. We would also like to thank Yeonmi Park for joining us, and Phillies Pub for the space, the delicious food for our hungry volunteers, and the generous prize donations. For great food and great company, be sure to check out them out!
There will be many exciting events planned throughout the remainder of the year to meet our goal of raising $15,000 to save 6 North Korean refugees and help them reach South Korea safely. Keep up-to-date on our blog and Facebook page (NKHR Rescue Fund). We look forward to seeing you at our next event!
We are a group of volunteers fundraising for NKHR (Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights) to rescue