Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Will you help us help them?

I have two or three unfinished posts that have been sitting in draft mode for months, simply because I'm really bad at a) being consistent and b) following through. I am just as interested in sharing those posts with you, but this is time sensitive and a bit more important.

A general disdain for North Korea and its treatment of its people wasn't something we were without before we came to South Korea. Nearly everyone in the world has an idea of the goings-on in NK from bits of news, but I think it's fair to point out that most people aren't aware of the full gravity of the situation.

A small glimpse: during the mid 90's there was a great famine in the country. As many as 3 million people died of starvation due to an incompetent government that valued the ideals of communism more than its own people. This is something that most people in Western culture aren't fully aware of. It's sad to say, but that is only one of many issues the country has had.

With any tyrannical government comes immense fear of dissent. You can't really hold hands with an iron fist. Currently, there are anywhere from 5-7 political prison camps known as "gulags" that hold North Koreans who are seen as political offenders. You could be sent to one of these camps for saying something bad about "Dear Leader (Kim Jong Il)," being a Christian, crossing the wrong person, attempting to defect, or even watching a South Korean drama. These camps are not unlike the ones we saw in Nazi Germany. While there is debate whether NK citizens are used for science experimentation or are gassed in gas chambers, we do know that there are tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of prisoners who have died from "a combination of exhaustion, disease, starvation, and arbitrary brutality."

This practice does not exclude children nor women.

Something has to be done. Obviously, our ability seems limited at first. To take down one of the longest-standing and deeply-corrupt governments in the world is no small feat. That's why most North Korean justice organizations are currently working on awareness as one of their top priorities.

Most Westerners have heard about Darfur but probably have no clue what the word gulag means. A small Japanese film group has taken it upon themselves to try to raise awareness through a popular format: animation.

Serenity and I really believe this is a legitimate way to turn people's eyes toward a situation that can no longer be ignored. From the group's kickstarter page:

A group of animators and human right activists from Japan have determined to produce an animation film to inform, inspire, and empower others to raise a voice against heinous human rights violations inside North Korea's notorious concentration camps, where over 200,000 "violators" are overworked, tortured, raped or publicly executed today.

Using the popular and accessible so-called "Anime" style, the film will graphically depict the survival of a young boy who grew up in the camp and escaped to a freer world.

The cost to get the project started isn't small. It will probably be very difficult to obtain, but it's necessary.

Please watch the informational video below to see if this is something you feel called to help with. If so, you can click through on the video and find out more details.

I'm not sure if this is too didactic, but we can't stay silent.



  1. wow. north korea is nearly COMPLETELY dark. good post, thank you.

  2. Thanks for opening my eyes Dan. I have buddies stationed in South Korea (U.S. Army) and they tell me things that go on. Its angering, but also heartbreaking. These people need help