It is hard to imagine living in seclusion from the rest of the world in a place with no freedom, not even basic human rights such as freedom of expression and equality. However, this is the stark reality of the citizens of North Korea. Despite the media focusing on the inabilities of the dictator, his rash actions of flying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, and the political tensions between the United Nations and other influential countries, the focus should and needs to be on the suffering of the North Korean people, especially of the refugees and orphans.
Chris de Bono is the UNICEF regional chief of communication for East Asia and Pacific for UNICEF and acknowledges the flaw of media’s focus. In an interview with BBC, he expressed that “children who are suffering and dying in [North] Korea are not the people who should be paying the price for whatever else is going on”. He continued by saying that the North Korean children “can’t be allowed to suffer and die because of decisions taken by adults”, primarily by their head of state.
A nonprofit organization that focuses on the human rights issues of North Korea is the Korean Church Coalition. KCC is dedicated to advocating for North Korean human rights legislation and to raising awareness of the dire situation of its citizens who are at this moment suffering under the oppression of their communist dictator. They emphasize the importance of taking legal actions to be the voice for the voiceless North Korean citizens and refugees.
KCC holds an intern leadership program every summer at the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. Interns fly from all over the States, with grades ranging from junior high school to graduate school. The interns participate in rallying at the West Lawn of the US Capitol, holding the White House Vigil at Lafayette Park, lobbying to House Representatives and Senators in their respective congressional buildings, and delivering speeches directed at the president/congressmen at the National Press Club.
KCC has actively lobbied for passage of legislation such as H.R. 757, the North Korea Sanctions Act, and the implementation of the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2011 and the North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2012. Congressmen have also fought along with the interns to fight for North Korea freedom at the West Lawn Rally; past US Representatives speakers include Congressman Ted Poe, Congressman Edward Royce, and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. Furthermore, Joseph Kim, author of Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America, has spoken at the internship program for two years and continues to share his story to fight for his blood-related brothers and sisters.
Regardless of the negative light the media shines on North Korea, it is necessary to keep the focus on the atrocities in North Korea and to be the voice for the voiceless.