Cal Lutheran discussed North Korean refugees in China

On Nov. 4, three members from Liberty in North Korea had a multimedia presentation at California Lutheran University. L.i.N.K is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping North Korean refugees in China reach safety.

According to the United Nations website, North Korea is an authoritarian dictatorship without any freedom. There is no political, religious or media freedom.

Isolationist policies have led to drastic food shortages. Starvation and malnourishment are big problems. Failure to follow the rules, for instance watching a western TV show or speaking up against the regime, can cause North Koreans to be executed or put in a labor camp for the rest of their lives.

Tatz Kristen is a 20-year-old woman from Vienna, Austria. She said she joined L.i.N.K because she read the book “Escape from Camp 14,” a survivor memoir by Shin-Dong-Hyuk. She said she wanted to help North Koreans and chose L.i.N.K because it is a non-profit organization without any religious or political affiliation.

“There were no non-profit organizations in Europe dedicated to helping North Koreans so I came to America to intern for L.i.N.K,” Kristen said.

Christine Chun from Chicago, Illinois said she first heard about L.i.N.K her sophomore year of high school. Her sister interned for L.i.N.K and Chun was inspired to join the organization herself.

“My grandparents and both sides of my family are from North Korea in terms of where they grew up, which really personalized the issue for me,” Chun said.

Charlie Song from London, England said he came to the United States to be able to join L.i.N.K and help North Koreans in China. After witnessing a lecture on North Korea, he really wanted to join.

“I really resonated with L.i.N.K’s vision, so I came here to California to help out and learn,” Song said.

The members of L.i.N.K have all met several North Koreans who have escaped. Kristen said she was surprised by how normal and well adjusted the North Korean refugees appear to be when you meet them.

“Even though they’ve been through extreme hardship they don’t show that in their demeanor. They are very positive people and they want to be activists for freedom in North Korea. They are very proactive,” Song said.

Kristen said that she has found North Korean refuges to be very inspirational.

“They are so amazingly happy people and they have so much potential,” Kristen said.

Song said he wants people to be hopeful after watching L.i.N.K’s presentations.

“This is a hopeful issue. There is a lot of change going on. We really don’t think we are the main agents of change, the North Korean people are doing it themselves,” Song said. “As an organization, we exist to exhilarate the changes that are already going on.”

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are between 10,000 and 300,000 North Korean refugees in China.

In China, North Korean refugees are subjected to economic exploitation, forced prostitution and a constant threat of being arrested and returned to North Korea.

L.i.N.K is dedicated to ensuring that North Koreans in China reach safety and help them build a new and better life in freedom.

Go to and donate to support their work. hundred percent of your donations fund their programs.


Karl Kleppe

Staff Writer

Published November 12, 2014