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This is our way of reaching out to those who happen to be in dire situations. Charity is our way of being thankful for all the blessings we enjoy at every moment of our lives.
Donate to our fundraising page at Liberty in North Korea.
While we take our freedom of choice to travel anywhere in the world for granted, millions of human beings around the world are deprived of this freedom for many various reasons, including but not limited to war, political situations and slavery.
For the 25 million people who live inside the boundaries of North Korea, their freedom to move even inside their own country is restricted to a hard to obtain certificate affirming the government’s permission to travel.
Most of the 22 million people who live outside Pyongyang are denied access to the capital.
Citizens, with their entire families, routinely undergo forced resettlement to rural areas of the country as a form of punishment, because many of the basic necessities for the normal existence of human life are non-existent there.
The consequences of emigrating from North Korea
Nurturing even the thought of leaving the country is considered a political crime. Those citizens who leave the country without government permission are considered “defectors” by the North Korean Government.
If anyone is caught in the process of emigrating, they are immediately sent to a Kwanliso, a political prison camp, where they undergo forced labour, routine torture, below-subsistence level food rations, and public-executions, with no chance of ever being released.
More than 80,000 to 120,000 people are currently estimated to be incarcerated in several concentration camps around North Korea. Some of these camps are as large as cities. Most people imprisoned in these camps were not guilty of any crime but were related to someone who supposedly committed a political crime. Often, they have no idea what that crime was. Even children who are born in these camps are raised as prisoners because the ‘blood of the guilty’ lasts up to three generations according to the regime.
North Korea is 25 million human beings, held captive
North Korea is not just Kim Jong Un and his missiles with nuclear warheads, but 25 million people, who have hopes and dreams, just like we do.
In addition to the freedom of movement and emigration, the people of North Korea achingly yearn for a satisfying meal, a working health system, freedom of belief, freedom from forced overenthusiastic praise of their political leaders, and freedom from the political apartheid system, Songbun.
Every year, more than one thousand people flee North Korea. There are many who die on their journey to freedom. Some get shot in the back by the border guards. Some drown in the Yalu or the Tumen rivers. Some die by accident or by nature (weather, wildlife or harsh environment).
The border with South Korea is so heavily armed, mined and fortified that chances of surviving an escape through this four-kilometre wide buffer zone, are described as “miraculous”.
Therefore, those North Koreans determined to flee, do so from the northern border with China. The Yalu (Amnok) and the Tumen rivers form the boundary between the two countries. China is hostile to North Korean refugees, and if caught, Chinese authorities are quick to deport North Koreans back to North Korea, from where they are immediately taken to political camps and tortured or even executed.
After crossing the river into China, some stay to find work and try to stay under the radar. Their illegal status in China makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous people. Women often find themselves sold into sexual slavery and forced marriage. In these circumstances, North Korean refugees often do not have the resources or connections to get themselves out of China.
Liberty in North Korea is a Not-for-Profit organization, that rescues North Korean refugees in China, and transports them via a 5000 km underground network through China and mainland Southeast Asia.
This perilous journey takes months. Refugees move from safe-house to safe-house, avoiding detection of the Chinese authorities. When on public transport, they do not dare talk to anybody, in fear of giving away themselves as Korean.
Unfortunately, safe-houses in China have been targets of raid, with their Chinese counterparts facing stiff punishment, and the refugees immediately deported back to North Korea. Some are caught during a documents check on public transport.
After reaching the Yunnan province in Southwest China, the refugees head to Laos, by crossing inhospitable terrain, mostly at night: through thick forest, leech-infested streams, and climbing almost 4000 feet (1300 meters), before reaching the Mekong River that borders Thailand.
They will then wait for dark, before crossing the Mekong into Thailand on a precarious motorized dinghy.
The South-East Asian countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar have cosy relations with the North Korean regime. These countries are, therefore, avoided. Laos is on record for sending refugees back to North Korea.
Thailand is usually the final destination of choice for fleeing North Koreans. If caught by Thai authorities, they are repatriated to South Korea.
Thailand, however, does not recognize North Koreans as refugees but as illegal migrants.
LiNK aims to deliver rescued North Korean Refugees to the South Korean Embassy in Bangkok. Here, the refugees will spend another few months, housed by the embassy, in crowded, ramshackle conditions, while they wait for their applications to be processed.
The struggle does not end here for our North Korean refugees
While awaiting their time at the Immigration detention centre in Bangkok, our refugees, in small groups of 10 are told suddenly to gather their meagre belongings. There are then taken to a waiting plane, that will take them to South Korea.
We wish this was actually the happy ending of their story. But this is not the end of their hardship.
On reaching Seoul, the refugees are taken to a high-security facility, where they will be interrogated by the NIS (National Intelligence Service) to ensure they are not enemy spies. Following that, there is a mandatory two-month instruction in South Korean culture and the modern way of life such as how to take the subway and using an ATM.
Only then are they granted South Korean citizenship, paid a settlement bonus of roughly $5,000, with small monthly installments to follow, and provided a housing allowance and employment incentives.
Integration and acceptance into the South Korean society is a huge challenge for North Koreans. They need continuing help with finding jobs that will accept them, their finances and coping with depression and stress.
You too can revive humanity by donating to Liberty in North Korea
While ManiaRavings.com is committed to financially helping Liberty in North Korea rescue refugees, you too can help us reach our monthly donation goals by contributing to our campaign page.
It costs $3,000 to rescue one refugee & empower them in their new life. The following table breaks down how every dollar helps.
|Basic Needs: $250|
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Funds to provide food, clothing, and other necessities during their journey to safety.
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The cost to transport the refugee, partners, and staff during the 3,000-mile journey.
The cost to provide shelter for the refugee and our staff along the journey.
|Rescue Fees: $1350|
This includes all costs for fines, fees, and the network of partners and staff in the underground to bring the refugee to safety.
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Funds set aside for emergencies and unforeseen expenses on the journey. Any unused amount is rolled into the budget for another rescue.
|Resettlement Assistance & Empowerment: $500|
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Funds to help resettled North Koreans reach their full potential through our Resettlement Assistance and Empowerment Programs.