Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR)
Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR), located in Seoul, South Korea, is a non-profit, non-governmental, non-religious human rights organization founded by Rev. Benjamin H. Yoon, human rights activists, intellectuals and North Korean defectors in May 1996. In May 2011, NKHR celebrated their 15th anniversary and they also received the 1st John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award from Canada early in this year.
This is a 15 year-old organization divided into three teams; International Cooperation & Campaign, Research, and Education & Training.
The International Cooperation and Campaign team mainly holds international conferences for raising awareness and the Beautiful Dream Concert in August for fundraising. They held their first conference in Seoul, South Korea (1999) and next year, they will hold an international conference at Geneva, Switzerland. On August 27th, 2011, NKHR held their 5th Beautiful Dream Concert for fundraising to help NK youth in SK and support the programs that Education and Training team runs.
The Research team collects and publicizes facts and other information on the current North Korean human rights situation. Currently, they are publicizing quarterly (Life and Human Rights) and monthly newsletters. They also publicize research papers and reports based on testimonies of NK. Based on their collected facts and testimonies, they published a book reporting child abuse in NK named “Child is the King of Country.”
Compared to the International Cooperation & Campaign team and the Research ream, the Education & Training team runs programs not only to educate and help NK teenagers adjust to new environments but also to become a mentor for them. The Education and Training team also runs the program to raise the awareness and lead S. Koreans to gain a better understanding of NK. They run ten programs throughout the year:
1. Hangyereh Summer and Winter School
: First started in 2001 summer. Since most of NK youth cannot receive proper education that they should in their age, they strengthen the basics mainly of math and English. However, in here, they do not only strengthen the basics but also a place for them to refresh.
2. Home Visits Program
: Volunteers used to go to the places of NK youth or those who needs helps with their education, but currently they link up the volunteers and NK youth who needs tutor of specific subject.
3. Leadership Education Workshop for N. Korean University Students
: It is three nights and four days program solely for ten to fifteen N. Korean university students. These students are recommended by former students who took this workshop. In this workshop, students will take various lectures.
4. Leadership Education for NK University Students
: This is small group meeting for N. Korean university students who took the Leadership Education workshop. Through this meeting, they would do volunteers or take lectures they need.
5. Volunteer Education Workshop
: This is two nights and three days workshop for university students and adults to raise the awareness and possibly lead them to volunteer in NK-related field.
6. Human Rights Education Workshop for Teenagers
: To educate teenagers about what Human right is and to lead them to have better understanding about North Korea and defectors.
7. Visiting Hanawon
: NKHR junior officer and volunteers visit Hanawon every Saturday. They have two sessions running; first session for math and English class and second session for outside activities.
8. ‘Becoming One’ Outing
: NK youth and SK youth would gather up once in two weeks and share the cultures and help them to build real friendship.
Article about outing:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/world/asia/12koreastudents.html?pagewanted=1&%2339&%2359; Alliance for North Korean Human RIghts&sq=Citizens&st=cse&scp=1
9. L4 Soccer Team (Learn to Love, Love to Learn Soccer Team)
: NK university students and volunteers gathered up under the motto Learn to Love, Love to Learn and made the soccer team. By playing the game, the wall between NK and SK is broken.
10. Pulbburi (풀뿌리) Scholarship
: Pulbburi in Korean literally means roots of grass. However as a Pulbburi Scholarship, volunteers or anyone donate from dollar to how much they want to in a month and this donated fund goes to one of NK student to cheer him/her.
With these programs and works that NKHR do, they are not only the human rights activists but also become friend to North Korean defectors. To know more about NKHR, you can go on to Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights website: www.nkhumanrights.or.kr
- Miri Cha