Professor Greg Scarlatoiu invited 3 North Korean defectors and Tim Peters from Helping Hands Korea, to HUFS and we will be having a panel and discussion period. Please do invite your friends too, as this is really a rare opportunity! 🙂
1. Shin Dong-Hyuk, hero of “Escape from Camp 14” (written by Blaine Harden)
Shin Dong-Hyuk was born at Political Prison Camp No. 14 in Kaechon, a slave labor camp where prisoners usually stay for life and die by the age of 45. He lived the first 23 years of his life in the camp, prior to his bold escape and an extraordinary journey that brought him to South Korea. The book, “Escape from Camp 14,” has been translated into 25 languages and is an international best-seller.
2. Kim Kwang-jin, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and Institute for National Security Strategy
Kim Kwang-jin is a former senior North Korean official tasked with running international financial operations. The excerpt below is from the introduction to the 2011 HRNK report “After Kim Jong-il: Can We Hope for Change?” by Mr. Kim Kwang-jin (introduction authored by Richard V. Allen, former HRNK Co-chair, and Chuck Downs, former HRNK Executive Director):
“On a dark night in September, 2003, Mr. Kim Kwang Jin, accompanied by his family, rushed to an airport in Southeast Asia to fly to freedom in Seoul, South Korea. His wife later recalled that every step she took felt like she was walking to the gallows. Only a few months earlier, the Kims had been privileged members of the North Korean regime’s overseas banking operations, bestowed with benefits that many members of North Korea’s official diplomatic missions do not receive. The Kims had entertained visiting North Korean officials, and enjoyed purchasing power and lifestyles that other North Koreans can hardly imagine. With privilege comes an understanding of reality—most obviously, the false precepts of a regime that exists solely for the benefit of Kim Jong-Il at the expense of a nation that is impoverished, starving, and suffering. The family of Kim Kwang Jin, like many other recent defectors, can now speak openly in the West about the misery they know exists in North Korea and their patriotic hopes for a North Korea that will be different after Kim Jong-Il.”
3. Kim Young-soon
Kim Young-soon is a former political prisoner and North Korean traditional dancer, in her mid-70s now. Her only fault was knowing Kim Jong-il’s mistress. For that reason alone, she and her family were sent to a political prison camp. Her family did not survive.
4. Tim A. Peters, Helping Hands Korea (HHK) Catacombs
Tim Peters is a Christian activist whose service has spanned four decades, six countries, as well as the Caribbean and Polynesian Islands. He currently resides with his wife, Sun-mi, in Seoul, South Korea where he has lived and labored on three separate occasions for a total of nearly 22 years since 1975. Tim and Sun-mi have five grown children and four grandchildren.
Under his leadership, Helping Hands Korea in 1996 experienced a major shift of focus from projects in South Korea to the needs of North Koreans in crisis. In response to news of famine in North Korea, Helping Hands Korea launched a small program to provide food aid to the most vulnerable sectors of North Korean society. Through these efforts, unorthodox avenues of aid delivery were developed to maximize transparency in monitoring, a chronic challenge to humanitarian groups in North Korea. From 1998, Helping Hands Korea undertook the additional task of assisting North Koreans in China who had fled famine and oppression in their own country only to find their lives also at risk in China. Aid to North Korean refugees in China includes secret shelters, food, clothing, emergency medical treatment, as well as spiritual guidance and comfort. Logistical support is given to refugees for escape to third countries via the so-called ‘underground railroad’ in certain crisis conditions. Since 2005, aid by HHK in China to orphaned children of forcibly repatriated North Korean refugee women has grown significantly.