On behalf of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, it is my great honor and pleasure to provide you the full report on the 18th annual North Korea Freedom Week whose theme this year was “Open! North Korea: Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Borders.” Please find attached the acknowledgements of the many folks and many organizations that participated to make the week a huge success so that we could accomplish our objective: rejuvenate and inspire the defector community in the Republic of Korea, who are living under an oppressive atmosphere, AND gain valuable insight from them about what is happening in North Korea. We set out to inspire the North Koreans and they ended up inspiring us with the amazing information they are getting out of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and by their pledge to re-commit themselves to the freedom of their homeland and the human rights and dignity of the North Korean people. Just a few links and highlights for you below, but PLEASE check out the full attached report which includes the opening ceremony, prayer vigil, visit to the ROK embassy, day of prayer and fasting, etc. and all those who participated this year especially the North Korean eyewitnesses.
Volunteer members of the North Korea Freedom Coalition made both video and written transcripts for you of the main NGO events in both English and Korean – so you can read or watch the powerful sessions that were held during North Korea Freedom Week 2021. Special thanks goes to Jason West who helped with the technical platform, so that we could all be together virtually during the NKFW panel sessions and the North Korea Freedom Coalition meeting, which was open to the public for the first time. Thank you to the Defense Forum Foundation, Katrina Lantos Swett and the Tom Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, Wendy Wright and Christian Freedom International, Dr. Pavel Klein and the Isabella Foundation, and Seung-il Shin for donating to cover the platform costs. Katrina and I also serve as officers with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, whose Executive Director, Greg Scarlatiou, provided inspiring remarks for the opening Ceremony along with other distinguished NGO leaders. Thank you also to Jason for helping prepare the videos and transcripts and to our wonderful translators and volunteers Helen Park, BJ Choi, Teresa Ost, and Johnny Park for helping create English and Korean transcripts of the following NGO panels:
Open Hearts: hosted by Nick Eberstadt and Olivia Schieber of the American Enterprise Institute, with Colonel David Maxwell of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies:
Open Minds: hosted by Bruce Klingner and Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation:
Open Borders: hosted by Dr. Pavel Klein of the Isabella Foundation:
We are also very grateful to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken for the very powerful statement that was made by the U.S. State Department to recognize North Korea Freedom Week on the anniversary of the first North Korea Freedom Day:
Also, you will love this video: Anna Yang took excerpts from the messages from Members of the US Congress that were broadcast on Free North Korea Radio for this year’s Seollal Holiday and produced a special video with the background music Edelweiss (Bless my homeland, forever!) that was played at the opening ceremony. The North Korean defectors were so moved by this video showing how much Americans care about the people of North Korea, that they copied it onto flash drives and have been sending it secretly by various means into North Korea since last month:
Now, on a very sad note, since North Korea Freedom Week, members of the South Korean military intercepted some of these flash drives and — because of the new law in South Korea banning information to North Korea — turned them over to the South Korean police which have launched an investigation into the defectors who sent the messages. So, we will see if defectors get fined and jailed for sending powerful, inspiring and hopeful messages by U.S. lawmakers to the people of North Korea. Did I mention the “oppressive atmosphere” in South Korea? Oh yes, I did.
Please be inspired by the attached report as we work to open the hearts and minds of the people of North Korea with truth and long for the time when the borders will be open. Also, finally note the next meeting of the North Korea Freedom Coalition will be Thursday, July 29th 7 pm EST — if you are not a member yet, you can join here.
Acta Non Verba,