Since the Holocaust of WWII, you probably know there have been other large-scale genocides: Croatia, Cambodia, Liberia, to name only a few. But did you know that the longest existence of such a thing has being going strong for over 60 years? Not cool! Moreover, the people trying to escape it are being persecuted and overall ill-received. Doubly uncool. In North Korea, millions and millions of people have been murdered by their government through shooting, hanging, starvation, exhaustion from labor, and chemical weapon experiments, to name a few. The crimes include things such as: being a child or grandchild of someone who has tried to escape North Korea, complaining about not being able to buy your children shoes, having talked to someone who is a Christian, owning a cell phone, and watching foreign television. The greatest concentration of straight-up murder is in the work camps, where an average of about 200,000 are kept alive at a time.
Every month, about 1,000 make it without getting shot over the border into China. Most of the women are sold off into the sex trade or forced marriage. Any kids they have by a Chinese father can't be registered with the Chinese government to receive education, healthcare, or employment unless there is evidence of the mother having been repatriated. (That's why there are tens of thousands of stateless children in Northwestern China.)
If caught by a Chinese official, any North Korean is repatriated back to North Korea. Women’s unborn “traitor” Chinese babies are aborted, all are tortured, some are executed, and the rest serve 7 years in a camp (most don’t survive the 7 years). Chinese embassies won't let them in at the gate, and China doesn't want other embassies or the UNHCR (the United Nation's refugee agency) too, either. In fact, the UNHCR helps 0% of North Koreans who come to its China-based office. So, most refugees flee through China to a third country like Burma/Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Mongolia, even Russia, to try to literally gate-hop, shove, or pretend they are South Korean tourists to get past embassy gates to plea their refugee status.
Our group firstly raises money to get these refugees to safety on a modern underground railroad. The money basically pays the profit broker, bribes officials, and covers food (they have to stay in hiding and bulk up so they don't look North Korean when they try to get in an embassy) and transportation. This is a sand-glass fund: the more money we get, the more rescues we can afford.
Secondly, we raise awareness (or, if you are a negative person, we fight propaganda!) regarding the North Korean human rights crisis through various projects. If people don't know or don't believe what's happening, they give their policy-makers no reason to take action. Although tens of thousands of corroborating defector testimonies attest to the reality in North Korea, this is the unfortunate case in Seoul, the number 1 destination for North Korean defectors. “WHAT?!” you might say. It’s a complex combination of rich people trying to retain money and power in their short lives, misdirected historical bitterness, and prejudicial education. If you just absolutely love social policy analysis, shoot me and email and I’ll explain further.
Justice for North Korea is out on the streets of Seoul every week, talking to passers-by in multiple languages, performing a repatriation drama, singing, doing art, making posters, showing people that the only qualification for caring about the oppression of North Koreans is to be human. Individual members do their own volunteer projects. Most tutor North Korean refugees (who arrive in South Korea with no higher than what in the United States is a third grade education). Others hold benefit concerts, do craft projects for refugees, run a second-hand shop, translate for a human rights violations database, and take part in lots of good ol’ protesting.
Check us out ~ justice4nk.org