With a heightened realization of what’s going on in North Korea, it’s hard not to be emotionally impacted. Whenever I work on something social justice related, I try to fight certain artistic impulses to milk people’s stories for their emotional value- I don’t want to turn real human moments into sob stories, and I don’t want to be exploitive or to turn experiences into what they’e not. I most definitely don’t want to come across as one of those infomercials juxtaposing urges to give with pulling images of malnourished children digging through trash heaps. Although those are realities, they are only one side of the story, and focusing only on them undermines how the people affected by oppression are also humans capable of joy and celebration and perpetuates their identity as exclusively victims, when they’re so much more.
But with North Korea, even the sheer facts command a strong emotional reaction. It doesn’t take much repackaging for one to feel the weight of what goes on over there.
Looking at the situation in North Korea can be overwhelming- in fact it probably should feel overwhelming. The oppressors of the country have gridlocked themselves into power, and for Liberty to come to North Korea, it would take the rising up of the weak against the strong. It will take unity. It will take a miracle- but a miracle is simply what happens when great compassion meets great power.
Usually when people say, “it’ll take a miracle,” it’s a resignation of hope, accompanied by a shrug. However, I think it’s better rephrased, “It’ll be a miracle when North Korea is free.” I believe its freedom won’t come easy, but I believe it’ll come, and it’s my prayer that this happens in my lifetime. Believing it’s a miracle is no excuse to throw one’s hands up and to just leave it up to fate. Don’t wait for a miracle… join a miracle. Be a part of the meeting grounds of that compassion and power, and do what you can.
So what exactly is that?
Well, in the other posts of this series, describing the crisis, I’ve tried my hardest to avoid the insertion of any opinion. People’s pain is not the place for opinion. However, in coming up with a solution, that does take some ideastorming, and occasionally ideas differ. These are my opinions. I’m a bit researched on North Korea, but I’m by no means an expert, so please, take these with a grain of salt and do your own research.
A lot of what can be done with North Korea lies in the control of world powers, in the U.N. and on governmental negotiating tables. That said, the Kim Jong Eun era is still in its infancy, and it’s hard to predict how it’ll differ from his father’s- or how much of a puppet government it’ll be (or who will be controlling those puppets, and so on…) While I advise paying close attention to North Korea in the news, know that the news often portrays only this intangible side of North Korea that only our prayers can really touch. Solutions involving international efforts and discourse are tricky and for all my research, I do not have a good idea I would propose. That’s not to say one isn’t out there, there are probably several. I just don’t have it. If international political policy is your area of interest, look to see how you can best use it to approach this great need. I only recommend a great amount of humility.
As far as food aid goes, I also do not feel equipped to recommend a certain solution.
Here is what I do recommend.
It’s given me a lot of pleasure to raise and increase awareness even among my friends, but it’s still frightening how something like this crisis can be going on. Even more eerie is how much retelling of the crisis can feel like a history lesson- but it’s not. It’s still happening, presently and currently. Honestly, I think a fuller realization will sit quite uneasy with most people. The more we get people involved, the less it all sits on one person’s shoulders. If I could personally provide the ultimate policy that frees North Korea and overthrows its oppressive regime in a way that causes no violence and keeps us at peace with China, I probably wouldn’t have to worry about raising support… I’d have a Nobel Peace Prize. But since that’s not quite happening, more voices, more brains interceding on behalf of North Korea, and working together in unity towards liberty, the more venues we have towards a better future. And for those who like me believe in the power of prayer- well, it’s a lot easier to pray for something when you’re aware of it.
That’s why I’m excited to hit the road, and to use my gifts of travelling, storytelling, speaking, and relating to people to help spread this awareness.
Another way is through giving.
In my last post, I reviewed the plight of North Korean refugees. There are many in hiding in the Chinese border towns, where they are in danger of repatriation, execution, labour exploitation, or being sold into the sex market. On the side of the refugees is the Underground Railroad, a rescue network made up of compassionate individuals that somewhat resembles the old American Underground Railroad of the 1800s.
The stories of rescued refugees have mostly made their way through freedom through networks like the Underground Railroad. These railroads rely a lot on funding. Many have refugees ready for the rescue as soon as they have enough to proceed with their next mission. What’s cool is that over the past few years, largely in part through funds raised by touring nomads like myself, LiNK, has been able to support the rescue of 101 refugees through finances, resources, and resettlement programs.
Funding is important to the rescue of refugees, but it also matters to their resettlement. Many often wind up at a disadvantage in their new environments, and could use assistance with education and furthering opportunities. Many also feel the effects of trauma after some escapes. Even though the number of the rescued is small compared to the number of those yet to be rescued, each one counts. To the rescued refugee, every effort made towards their rescue and resettlement makes a huge impact.
Furthermore, I consider continuing to learn more about the North Korean Human Rights crisis, to find some non-profits and other organizations dedicated towards helping break through the oppression. Considering I’m interning with them, you all probably can guess how I feel about LiNK- Liberty in North Korea. Keep learning, keep reading, and keep hoping. In a little bit, I’ll try and post some more materials I hope you may find helpful.
Lastly, don’t lose sight of what can be. It may seem a world away, but I look forward to taking up the cause of the oppressed. I thank you all who choose to join me in finance and give, who join me in awareness and research and think, and who join me in prayer as I pray to a God who can bring peace and freedom to one of the globe’s most oppressed corners.
I write for free because it gives me a lot of joy to do so! If, however, you’ve been enjoying for a little while, I am currently raising funds for an internship with LiNK. If you would like to help me raise awareness about the North Korean Human Rights crisis around our country, I would greatly appreciate any donation. Thanks!