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