Three North Korean refugees shared their stories with the college community on Feb. 25 as part of a special event sponsored by Pierce College International Education. To protect their identities – and to protect their families back home –cameras were strictly prohibited, but for many in the audience, the memory of hearing their stories could very well last longer than any photograph.
Keynote speaker and internationally recognized human rights activist Suzanne Scholte has made it her life’s work to advocate for the North Korean people. She has been involved in the rescue of many North Koreans seeking freedom.
The panel of refugees spoke of their experiences growing up in North Korea, and the propaganda that runs rampant against the United States and outside world at large.
One refugee, who goes by the name Grace Kelly Kim, became a U.S. citizen in 2012, and has been urging her elderly parents to leave their home country and join her in the United States. Kim’s parents simply refused to leave out of fear and love of their home country.
Thanks to the lack of information about the outside world, many North Koreans have little knowledge of the opportunities that exist outside its borders. “My mother just does not understand how I could have left for such a horrible place like the United States,” she said. “We must work to open that society and tell people the truth about the world.”
Kim is grateful for the opportunity to start a new life in the United States, and regularly sends money home to her family. Last year, she also supported North Koreans with $25,000 of her own money.
With the help of human rights activists such as Scholte, more and more information is reaching the people of North Korea. Through the South Korea-based Free North Korea Radio, people inside the borders now have access to an hour-long broadcast a day, designed to provide information about the free world and ultimately dispel the government propaganda they grew up with.
Scholte currently serves as the honorary chairman of Free North Korea Radio, which is run entirely by refugees. The station broadcasts for as little as an hour a day, but has still become the target of cyber attacks and concern from the North Korean government.
“We need to do more to help those refugees who are trying to get good information in to the North Korean people,” Scholte said. “This regime will end some day, and the North Korean people will be right to ask us what exactly we knew and how we helped them.”
This event was brought to Pierce College thanks to the following sponsors: the National Unification Advisory Committee, Korean Women’s International Network –Pacific Northwest Chapter, Delta Airlines, Asiana Airlines and the Ramada Inn Tukwila.
Story reprinted, with permission, from Pierce News website.