North Korea Freedom Week 2018 Acknowledgements
15th Annual North Korea Freedom Week April 24 - May 5, Seoul, Korea
The Truth Will Set Them Free
It is our great honor and pleasure to present to you the acknowledgements report for the 14th annual North Korea Freedom Week. It was quite ironic that the theme for NKFW 2018 was The Truth Will Set Them Free and focused on the work that North Korean defectors are doing to change the hearts and minds of the people of North Korea to peacefully bring freedom and human rights to North Korea. The irony was that the day before NKFW began, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and promised the dictator that South Korea would stop information to North Korea! Thus, NKFW became immediately very timely because a lot of our events and plans were focused on the importance of information and getting the truth to North Korea. As a result, the media which our hosts feared would ignore NKFW due to South Korea’s current political climate all of a sudden became quite interested in NKFW because of Moon’s promise to the dictator. Would we carry on with our NKFW plans? Of course, Yes!
Despite the pressure we were immediately under, we were able to successfully highlight the importance of information to North Korea throughout the week and Free North Korea Radio broadcast successfully every day into North Korea, and we were able to participate in efforts to get information to North Korea through the rice bottle launch. While our NKFW public balloon launch was blocked by South Korean police and heavily attacked by pro-DPRK activists in South Korea, Park Sang Hak and Fighters for Free North Korea carried out a night balloon launch during North Korea Freedom Week which the North Korea Freedom Coalition helped finance.
Additionally, we are pleased to report that Vice President Mike Pence sent a tweet in support of North Korea Freedom Week and the US State Department issued a strong statement as well -- and of course the North Korean regime condemned “Freedom Week” and used it as one of their reasons to stop the summit with South Korea.
Earlier this year, our colleagues in Seoul were understandably very reluctant to host NKFW this year because of the current political situation they are facing now in South Korea. We did not want to change plans and bring it back to Washington, D.C., because it would seem like a retreat at such an historic time with all these talks of summits and Noble Peace Prizes! The defectors were concerned that whatever we did would be ignored by the media, and they were concerned that they would face heavy pressure to be silenced. That did occur and is occuring today: we know for a fact that a South Korean leading politician and Tae Young Ho, one of the highest ranking North Korean defectors, were being encouraged not to partcipate in North Korea Freedom Week. However, they would not be silenced and both spoke at the Opening Ceremony. So, North Korea Freedom Week 2018 achieved its aims which were as follows:
- To highlight the North Korean defectors’ actions to bring freedom to North Korea (including balloon launch, sending PET bottles with rice, and focusing panel sessions on information);
- To save North Korean refugees in China and call for the Chinese government to stop repatriating North Korean refugees (the refugees in which we focused during NKFW are now on their way to South Korea!);
- To introduce the education program for North Korean defector children (there were wonderful visits to schools and in depth sessions on this topic); and
- To expose the ongoing human rights violation in North Korea’s political prisons and human trafficking of refugees and to propose solutions. (The NKFW 2018 appeal with solutions was delivered to President Donald Trump and released to the media while sessions throughout the week focused on these topics with powerful testimonies of survivors.)
Emphasized throughout the week was the fact that while there was all this focus on the upcoming summits, we must never lose our focus on the PEOPLE of North Korea who are subjected to atrocious violations of human rights every day. We must remember that the Kim regime is committing crimes against humanity and his latest charm offensive should never shift our focus on the suffering people of North Korea who deserve to have the same freedoms that South Koreans and American enjoy every day.
Unlike any previous North Korea Freedom Week, this year the week began with an International Day of Prayer and Fasting for the freedom of the North Korean people. The call for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting came as a result of a US Congressional briefing in which Dr. Thomas Belke, one of the world’s leading experts on Juche and author of JUCHE: A Christian Study of North Korea's State Religion, testified that the spiritual evil pervading North Korea can only be defeated by prayer and fasting. People all around the world joined in this opening day which was followed by 30 days of nonstop prayer which kicked off at Paju Island the second day of North Korea Freedom Week.
Please enjoy these photos and acknowlegements of the 15th annual North Korea Freedom Week prepared for you by Kang Seo. And, a very special thanks goes to Jason West who recorded many of the sessions, so all can view the NKFW events at this link: https://www.facebook.com/nkfreedom.org/
We are deeply grateful to all the people who helped organize events and who participated in NKFW 2018.
The Truth Will Set Them Free!
On behalf of the NKFW 2018 Organizing Committee
Until They Are FREE,
Suzanne Scholte, Chair, North Korea Freedom Week 2018
NKFW Organization Committee:
- Honorary Chairman: Suzanne Scholte, North Korea Freedom Coalition
- Co-Chairman: Kim Tae-hoon, esq., Lawyers for HR and Unification of Korea
- Pastor Lim Chang-ho, Koshin University
- Lee Mi-il (Korean War Abductees’ Family Union)
- Park Sang-hak (Alliance of NK Defector Organizations for NKHR)
- Professor Nishioka Tsutomu (Tokyo Christian University)
- Chairman: Kim Seong-min (Free North Korea Radio)
- Pastor Kang Chul-ho (Saetu Church)
- Kim Heung-kwang (NK Intellectuals’ Solidarity)
- Huh Kwang-il (Committee for the Democratization of North Korea)
- Jang Se-yul (Gyereol United)
- Choi Jeong-hun (North Korean People’s Liberation Front)
Participating Defector Leaders and Organizations
Kim Seong-min (Free North Korea Radio)
Park Sang-hak (Fighters for Free North Korea)
Choi Joo-hwal (North Korean Defectors’ Comraderies)
Huh Kwang-il (Committee for Democratization of North Korea)
Yoo In-duk (Sungyi Society)
Jang Se-yul (Gyereol United)
Kim Heung-kwang (NK Intellectuals’ Solidarity)
Lee Ae-ran (Center for Liberty and Reunification)
Choi Jeong-hun (North Korean People’s Liberation Front)
Kang Chul-ho (Christian Council of North Korea)
Lee Myung-oak (Relief Union for North Korean Refugees)
Park Jung-oh (Keun Saem Education Center)
Huh Young-cheol (Culture Union for Liberty and Unification)
US Delegation for NKFW 2018
Jason West, Esq. (North Korea Freedom Coalition)
Greg Forman (North Korea Freedom Coalition)
Nancy Purcell (North Korea Freedom Coalition)
Ji Soon Ja (North Korea Freedom Coalition)
Angela Fulton (WORLD Magazine)
Kang Seo (North Korea Freedom Coalition)
Suzanne Scholte (North Korea Freedom Coalition)