With the death of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011, news stories about the country have focused on what North Korea will look like into the future—politically and socially. With this change in leadership, as well as the backdrop of the devastating 1990s famine, some humanitarian aid groups are worried that food supplies in North Korea are dangerously low. For a visual journey of North Korea’s current food crisis—the kinds of images rarely seen outside of North Korea—see this photo essay on The Guardian.
Food Shortages and Other Humanitarian Crises in North Korea
Famine is just one of the human rights crises plaguing the North Korean people. According to advocacy organization North Korea Now and Washington DC-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), human rights violations extend beyond the food crisis to include the use of prison camps, abduction of foreign nationals and lack of basic freedoms.
It’s no surprise, then, that some North Koreans flee the country to find refuge elsewhere.
“the number of North Korean refugees in China range from as low as 10,000 (the official Chinese estimate) to 300,000 or more. The State Department estimates the number to be between 30,000 and 50,000, with the UN Refugee Agency also using this number as a working figure.”
How LiNK is Helping North Korean Refugees
A United States-based nonprofit, LiNK (Liberty in North Korea), is doing expansive work to help these tens of thousands of North Korean refugees. LiNK’s mission: “to redefine the North Korea Crisis through creative storytelling, while providing emergency relief to North Korean refugees and pursuing an end to the human right crisis”.
In 2011, here are some of the things the organization accomplished:
- 58 North Korean refugees rescued
- Over 80 stateless children in China cared for with food, education and shelter
- Thousands of dollars spent on scholarships for resettled refugees
- A high school graduation in the US
- A wedding in South Korea for two different refugees rescued
- Over 700 screenings booked, reaching 60K+ people in North America
- More than $119K USD raised
If you’d like to support LiNK, you can donate here.
More About LiNK:
More About North Korea:
For a snapshot of life in North Korea, read BBC’s report “North Korea: Life in cultural isolation”.
News resources about North Korea: