Denied freedom of speech, movement and information. Subjected to collective punishment, public executions and political prison camps. The people of North Korea are living in one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
A missionary kid originally from South Korea, Sol Bee Park, junior communications major, remembers her heart breaking as she watched the oppression of the North Korean people on the news.
In particular, she remembers witnessing the one day a year that North Koreans were allowed to travel into South Korea to see their families.
“Those [scenes] really stuck in me, and they had a big impact on me and made me realize how glad I am to have my family, but also made me wonder ‘What can I do to help the situation?’” Park said.
Park heard about Liberty in North Korea when the organization visited Union last year. Although she could not attend the meeting, she researched the global, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization and was motivated to start chapter at Union.
The chapter is an extension of the larger organization, which has chapters at universities throughout the country. The organization rescues North Korean refugees, helps them reach freedom and assists with resettlement. It also holds empowerment programs to incite internal change.
LiNK at Union has the same goals as its international counterpart, with emphasis on refugee rescue operations.
Union LiNK has held two fundraisers, selling Oreo balls at Senate and fried Oreos at Family weekend, successfully raising more than $200. Park said all of the proceeds will be donated to the international LiNK.
“In a way, we’re a fundraising committee,” Park said. “But we’re also trying to change the narrative. So what that means is we realize that the media tends to be very biased. So it tends to focus a lot on Kim Jung, the Kim family and nuclear bombs and atrocities.
“In that, the attention has shifted away from the people of North Korea. And that’s very important because we [tend to] focus on just the dangers in North Korea, just the cruelty,” Park said. “It also makes us scared to go toward North Korea…we want to focus on the people who are actually affected by the government.”
By shifting the media’s focus away from cruel dictatorship and nuclear warfare, LiNK hopes to create a feeling of empathy of the North Korean people and accelerate change.
For information about events, updates on the situation in North Korea or to get involved, students can join the organization’s Facebook group: LiNK @ UU General Members. A general meeting for interested new members is planned for mid-October.