Event Review: Liberty in North Korea

Photo Credit: Liberty in North Korea[1]

By: Garrett Redfield

On Friday, February 28, the NGO: Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) visited Penn State University. “The nomads,” who are representatives of LiNK, came to discuss initiatives their organization does to empower the North Korean people. The nomads who came to visit were Liz Cheek, Michelle Lopez, and Brian Tassey. The three topics covered during their presentation were: 1) Korean history, 2) LiNK’s purpose, and 3) Six reasons why North Korea will change.

During the presentation, the nomads stressed to the audience that North Korea severely violates human rights, exemplified by the fact that there are 120,000 North Koreans in prison camps. At these camps, prisoners are tortured, executed and raped. The nomads also stressed how the North Korea government imprisons up to three generations of a family line.

Nevertheless, the nomads stressed that North Korea will change in our lifetime. This change is “irreversible and unstoppable.” The nomads stated it will change for six reasons:

1)      Economic Revolution – There are many underground markets in villages across North Korea where there are trading of local goods to survive. This undermines the North Korean government’s economic micromanagement system.

2)      Information Flows – There are numerous bootlegged videos from South Korea and the United States that have made it into North Korea. These videos are exposing the North Korean people to the outside world.

3)      Corruption – Since North Korean officials are not given proper wages, they can be easily bribed to look the other way.

4)      Bridge to North Korea – North Koreans outside of the country are sending money back to family in North Korea via illicit networks and are using Chinese cell phones to contact family within North Korea.

5)      North Korean Demographic – North Korean millennials did not grow up depending on the North Korean government. Instead, they have learned that the only way to survive is to break the rules of the government.

6)      North Korean Societal Interactions – North Korean people are relying more on one another rather than the government.

If you would like to know more about one defector LiNK has helped, there is a documentary publicly available on YouTube. Click here to view it.


Garrett Redfield is a Master of International Affairs Candidate at the School of International Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University. As an adopted Korean American, he has a strong interest in Korean Peninsula affairs, and focuses on Korean Reunification. Garrett has lived in Korea for an extensive amount of time, mainly as a former ESL instructor. He is proficient in Korean.

[1] https://www.libertyinnorthkorea.org/

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