Students listen to stories of North Korean refugees

By Megan Corum

On Sunday, Oct. 12, an event that was hosted by Amnesty International, Korean Culture Club, Lawrence International and Students for Justice in Palestine, showed videos of North Korean refugees describing their experiences in North Korea and the process by which they left.

Following the presentation, questions were answered by representatives of the organization, Liberty in North Korea (LiNK). The purpose of LiNK is to resettle North Korean refugees.

The events in North Korea go beyond what the rest of the world sees in the media. “There is a lot more to the country than a grumpy dictator with a bad haircut,” junior, Katie Rozek who helped to organize the event said.

In the videos, the speakers spoke of experiences in prison camps and in environments with a lack of food, medical attention and electricity. The rise of external communication was also addressed as well as the impact of generational shifts on opinions of the government.

“I found out about LiNK in one of my readings about Shin Dong-Hyuk,” Rozek said. Dong-Hyuk is the only known defector from a North Korean prison camp to escape alive.

LiNK works to rescue and resettle North Korean refuges using a 3,000-mile path into Southeast Asia. So far, they have rescued 265 refugees.

According to their website, LiNK rescues because a lot of refuges “do not have the resources or connections to get themselves out of China.”

Even if someone can cross the border into China, they might be sent back and, according to the LiNK website, could be at “risk of extremely harsh punishments, including brutal beatings, forced labor, forced abortions, torture, and internment in a political prison camp.”

It costs $3,000 to rescue one person, and LiNK is currently working to rescue 200 people. Anyone can start their own campaign on the LiNK website to work on raising money.

“My favorite part of the event was the reiteration that college students are not helpless. We have the power to make a difference,” Rozek said.