Growing up I experienced the bliss of hearing stories that had happy endings. Those stories instill courage in me and give me hope. What I did not know was when I was hearing stories about princesses, children in another part of the world were forced to learn about the Kim dictatorship, and watch people being executed. I had three meals a day, while they struggled for one meal in three days. I dreamt of becoming something great when I was older, while they lived in constant fear and dreamt of seeing the next day. One might think they committed a grave mistake to be punished in such a way. But what was their mistake? They were born in North Korea.
The people of North Korea haven’t heard of freedom, as the only voice they hear are those of the country’s regime. They are not “allowed” to have an opinion. It is illegal to possess a tunable radio in North Korea, one cannot make international calls, and there is no access to the Internet. There are about 300,000 North Korean refugees in China. 70% of North Korean women and teenage girls are victimized. Human and sex trafficking rates have escalated at alarming levels and women are sold for as little as 100 dollars. Many people imprisoned in Political Prison Camps were not guilty of any crime but were related to someone who supposedly committed a political crime. Often they have no idea what that crime was, and even children who are born in the camps are raised as prisoners because their ‘blood is guilty’. Public execution is extremely common in North Korea and whole communities are forced to witness them, for it to serve as a warning for them. North Korean people have faced food shortages ever since the 1990s. Millions of malnourished children and babies, pregnant women and nursing mothers bear the brunt of the shortages today. If one is caught trying to escape, or if caught in China and sent back, they are at risk of harsh punishments including brutal beatings, forced labor, forced abortions, torture, and internment in a political prison camp.
Humans are family. None of our brothers/sisters deserve to be oppressed just because of their birthplace. We must help them by raising awareness to the best of our means and donating. We can also provide shelter to the refugees and contribute by protesting or signing petitions for their human rights.
Donate to “The People’s Challenges.” Liberty in North Korea, https://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/learn-nk-challenges/.