[WATCH] North Korea During Covid-19: Implications on Security, Human Rights, and Foreign Policy

Watch an important discussion featuring Mr. Ri Jong-Ho and Hyun Seung Lee — they speak about their assessments on the implications of Covid-19 on North Korea’s security, human rights, and humanitarian landscape. And be sure to listen to Mr. Ri’s statement made directly to North Korean people at the end of the event (filmed on International Human Rights Day!)

12/10 Event Invitation: North Korea During Covid-19: Implications on Security, Human Rights, and Foreign Policy

Join me on International Human Rights (Dec 10) for a Belfer Center event, “North Korea During Covid-19: Implications on Security, Human Rights, and Foreign Policy” with Mr. Ri Jong-Ho and Hyunseung Lee. RSVP on the link below!


I’ll be moderating a conversation with two high-profile North Korean escapees who will share their assessments and implications of the current situation in North Korea during this Covid-19 era. Mr. Ri Jong-Ho, a former senior economic official in North Korea, and his son Hyun-Seung Lee will discuss how North Korea has been affected due to Covid-19 lockdowns, and the short- and long-term implications of North Korea’s self-quarantining on human rights, security, and trade in North Korea. They will also share their recommendations on what the US government could consider regarding its North Korea policy, as well as their hopes and vision for North Korea’s future.

Speaker Bios:

Ri Jong Ho

Ri Jong Ho is a former senior North Korean economic official and special advisor to the Workers’ Party on economic development policy and foreign investment. His last assignment was in Dalian, China as head of the Korea Daehung Trading General Corporation, which is managed by Office 39, a clandestine organization under direct control of the ruling Kim family. Office 39 is responsible for procuring hard currency for the Kim regime, which is critical to sustain the economy and ensure the loyalty of party elites. Prior to his last posting, Ri was President of Daehung Shipping Company and Director of the Daehung General Bureau of North Korean Worker’s Party, a position equivalent to deputy secretary-level rank in the country. After that, he was Chairman of North Korea Kum-Kang Economic Development Group of the National Defense Commission, a position Ri was directly appointed to by Kim Jong Il, former leader of North Korea. Ri is a recipient of the “Hero of Labor” Award, the highest civilian honor in North Korea. Following a series of brutal purges by the current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he defected with his family to South Korea in late 2014. Ri currently resides in the greater Washington, DC area and consults the U.S. government and think tanks on North Korea policy.

Hyun-Seung Lee

Hyun-Seung Lee is a former Deputy General Manager of the Korea Miyang Shipping Corporation (business entity of the DPRK regime), who graduated from China Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, where he was the chairman of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, Dalian China branch. After completing his military service in 2005 with the rank of Sergeant, he was granted membership in the Korean Workers Party. Despite his prestigious background and elite-level education, a series of brutal purges by Kim Jong Un forced him and his entire family to defect in late 2014, making their way first to South Korea. Subsequently the entire family emigrated to the United States (2016) where Hyun-Seung has been engaged with several Washington DC think tanks and NGOs in consulting roles.

Curiosity is Alive in North Korea [Lumen’s promo video]

Lumen’s promo video is finally out! Check out this video that interviews a number of North Korean escapees about how consuming foreign information impacted them while they were living in North Korea. This was co-produced by one of our team members, a North Korean escapee whose dream is to become a filmmaker in Seoul. Information is Freedom. www.Lumen.Global

Innovating Our Approach to Human Rights in North Korea [Op-Ed]

As a complement to the event I organized on April 20 with a panel of 7 North Korean-escapees, Sylvia Kim and I co-authored this piece “Innovating our Approach to Human Rights in North Korea” through the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center on the importance to innovate our approach to human rights in North Korea and share four convergent opportunities for investment by civil society actors.

Share this with folks who have an interest in making a big impact in North Korean human rights — there are plenty of opportunities to make a substantive difference!

Innovating Our Approach to Human Rights in North Korea: Investing in the Freedom & Empowerment of the North Korean People

By: Jieun Baek and Sylvia Kim | May 05, 2021

Due to global awareness campaigns around the North Korean regime’s crimes against humanity, the world now knows how much the North Korean people suffer at the hands of their own government.  As the UN COI Report on human rights in North Korea stated, “the gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

Albert Einstein allegedly defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. For years, the international community has done the same thing over and over again by pressuring this totalitarian regime to improve its human rights practices with little success in achieving practical change. It is time to innovate our approach to this seemingly intractable crisis by redefining the problem, the experts, and the solutions and prepare for a North Korea where North Koreans can finally author their own future.   

Rather than frame the problem as how to convince the regime to do better, we redefine the problem by asking how we — as civil society — can improve the rights of North Korean people in both the short-term and long-term. In redefining the experts, we turn to an emerging generation of North Korean-escapees who have the lived experiences of human rights abuses and are now accomplished professionals in their home countries. In redefining the solutions, we outline 4 convergent opportunities for how each of us can invest in the collective vision of a free North Korea; each investment opportunity is jointly pivotal to ending one of the worst human rights crises in modern history. 

Whether we are advocates, philanthropists, investors, academics, technologists or concerned global citizens who believe in this vision of empowering the North Korean people, every prospect below is a strategic investment opportunity with an invaluable ROI — defined here as “return on impact” — of achieving a free North Korea. 

1. Invest in Freedom

It is well-documented how North Korean refugees risk their lives to flee the regime in order to seek freedom and how organizations like Liberty in North Korea help rescue North Korean refugees. When people think about North Korea, this is often the extent to which they consider their involvement — supporting organizations that carry out refugee rescue operations. Investing in freedom has the irreplaceable ROI of saving lives and is critical in achieving the ultimate vision of a free North Korea. However, as the North Korean defector community has grown worldwide to over 35,000 people, there are now additional opportunities to invest into a vision that allows North Koreans to author their own lives and positively impact the future of North Korea. 

2. Invest in Refugee Resettlement 

Although North Korean refugees have resettled in countries around the world, the majority (over 33,000) resettle in South Korea where they face inevitable struggles and are often treated as “second-class” citizens. To help refugees beyond their rescue, we must invest in their educational and sustainable growth as they resettle into their new countries and assimilate to a democratic way of life. We must ensure that their resilience in overcoming insurmountable challenges in order to attain their freedom does not merely lead to perpetual discrimination within their country of resettlement.   

Resettlement organizations like Woorion believe that the future of North Korea is ultimately up to North Koreans themselves. Woorion serves a 10,000+ network of North Korean defectors while activating their potential to strive for a free, democratic and unified Korean peninsula. By investing in the successful resettlement of refugees, the ROI is in amplifying North-Korean-led initiatives — such as Woorion, which was founded by a young North Korean defector — and in helping refugees reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to their new countries. 

3. Invest in Cultivating Leaders 

There is an emerging generation of North Korean refugees across South Korea, Europe, and North America who are highly accomplished and motivated to help their home country. This promising generation consists of high-achieving refugees who are entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, economists, statisticians, authors — all pursuing their higher education degrees, running their own start-ups, working at top companies, or serving as consultants and bureaucrats for governments of their new countries. They are bi/tri-lingual, bi/tri-cultural, and have the lived experience of having been born and raised in North Korea yet have successfully assimilated into multiple countries after escaping North Korea.

This new generation of North Korean-escapees are positioned to play key leadership roles in the critical policy and social domains of human rights, transitional justice and accountability, peace and security, policy and politics, education, assimilation issues, and more. These new North Korean experts are equipped to be the best liaisons between North Korea and the rest of the world.

Cultivating these leaders has the vital ROI of growing a sustainable pipeline of accomplished North Korean-born professionals who (1) have the lived experience of being from North Korea; (2) are high-achieving professionals with experience and/or impressive academic credentials; (3) have powerful global networks; and (4) consistently demonstrate a serious interest in contributing to the future of a successful, peaceful, productive Korean peninsula.  Moreover, young people inside North Korea can see the success stories of such leaders and view them as role models, providing the basis of hope for their own futures.

4. Invest in Innovative Information Campaigns 

North Korean people live in the most repressive society in the world today. The North Korean regime’s monopolization of information is the primary method through which they exercise complete control over its population. Undermining this monopolization is the most powerful and cost-effective way to create lasting changes from within North Korea. As we have seen throughout history, empowering individuals with access to information is a sure way to transform society without resorting to drastic regime change.

Over the past two decades, foreign information has been trickling into North Korea sparking small social and economic changes throughout the country. There is a growing erosion of the regime’s political legitimacy, disbelief in the Kim dynasty, and the demand for foreign information; more and more North Koreans want to be equipped with 21st century information and tools.

There has never been a greater opportunity to marshal resources to make the world’s information available to all North Koreans.  Innovative NGOs like Lumen and NKHRW are at the forefront of providing North Koreans with access to information by creating content as well as by developing reliable distribution channels that deliver unfettered access to independent sources of information. The ROI of these strategic information campaigns is the requisite undercurrent that creates the sustainable conditions for a free North Korea. 

Such an epic transformation from totalitarianism to democracy, from disinformation to accurate information, from oppression to empowerment, requires significant capital. This is therefore the moment in history to go “all in” to invest in the prospects described throughout this article. 

It is only when we collectively invest in freedom, refugee resettlement, the cultivation of North Korean-escapee leaders, and innovative information campaigns, that we can achieve the ultimate ROI of successfully bringing change to one of the most oppressive totalitarian regimes in history. May we seize these strategic investment opportunities and empower the North Korean people to author their own futures for the first time in North Korea’s 70-year history.

[Watch the video “Innovating Our Approach to Human Rights in North Korea,” a Belfer Center – Carr Center co-sponsored event]

Statements and views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School, or the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Harvard Business School Students’ Mentorship Program for North Korean-born Entrepreneurs

Amazing at Harvard Business School set up a one-on-one internship program with North Korean-born entrepreneurs. If you are interested, check out the flyers (English and Korean), and *apply on this google form*. Let me know if you have any questions!

Innovating Our Approach to Human Rights in North Korea

I had a the pleasure of organizing and moderating an event titled “Innovating our Approach to Human Rights in North Korea,” featuring an all North Korean-escapee panel. This event was co-sponsored by Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

It’s time to re-define this problem statement, re-define the experts, and re-define the solutions on this seemingly intractable problem of human rights in North Korea. Watch this talk, and listen to these incredibly accomplished, fiercely intelligent panelists. I’m also copy/pasting the event details below so you could check out each of the panelists’ bios.


Due to global awareness campaigns around the North Korean regime’s crimes against humanity against its people, the world now knows of just how much North Korean people suffer at the hands of their totalitarian regime. Given that there is a baseline of public knowledge regarding the deplorable human rights conditions in the country, it is now time to invest in and prepare for a North Korea where North Koreans can finally author their own future. This event will lay out a few options for how civil society actors can impactfully invest in the collective vision of a free North Korea by empowering North Korean people. This event featured all North Korean-born panelists. 

Moderator: Dr. Jieun Baek Fellow, Belfer Center 


  • Dae-Hyeon Park | Founder and CEO of Woorion
  • Hyun-Seung Lee | Former Deputy General Manager, Korea Miyang Shipping Corporation
  • Seo-Hyun Lee | Graduate Student
  • Seong-Min Lee | Human Rights Advocate
  • Sung-Ju Lee | Author; PhD Candidate 
  • Timothy Cho | Inquiry Clerk to the APPG on North Korea; UK Conservative Party Candidate
  • Yeon-Mi Park | Human Rights Advocate; Author

Dae-Hyeon Park is originally from South Hwanghae in North Korea, Park Dae-hyeon is a founder and CEO of Woorion, an NGO and social network that connects North Korean refugees living in South Korea to educational opportunities, scholarships, job openings, housing, social services and support, and other important information about resettlement and life in South Korea. He lived in England for much of his teens and speaks excellent English. He is also a student in the school of business and management at Kookmin University in Seoul. Park Dae-hyeon is passionate about helping North Korean refugees and plans to start a microfinance initiative to help would-be North Korean business people.

Hyun-Seung Lee is a former Deputy General Manager of the Korea Miyang Shipping Corporation (business entity of the DPRK regime), who graduated from China Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, where he was the chairman of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, Dalian China branch. After completing his military service in 2005 with the rank of Sergeant, he was granted membership in the Korean Workers Party. Despite his prestigious background and elite-level education, a series of brutal purges by Kim Jong Un forced him and his entire family to defect in late 2014, making their way first to South Korea. Subsequently the entire family emigrated to the United States (2016) where Hyun-Seung has been engaged with several Washington DC think tanks and NGOs in consulting roles.

Dr. Jieun Baek is a Fellow with the Korea Project and the Applied History Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center where she focuses on North Korea policy. She is the author of North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society, and is the founder and co-director of Lumen, a non-profit organization that works to make information available to all North Koreans. Prior to receiving her doctorate in Public Policy at the University of Oxford, she was a Research Fellow at theBelfer Center, and worked at Google headquarters for several years where, among other roles, she served as Google Ideas’ North Korea expert. Baek received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard.  She is a proud Los Angeles native. Visit her atwww.JieunBaek.com

Seo-Hyun Lee was born and raised in central Pyongyang, North Korea. She went to China to study when she was a sophomore at Kim Il Sung University and earned her bachelor’s degree of Science in Finance from Dongbei University of Economics and Finance in 2014. She defected from North Korea in October 2014 during a heightened period of brutal purges by the Kim Jong Un regime. With her long-term vision to build a liberal democratic system and bring freedom in North Korea, she pursues further graduate studies. 

Seong-Min Lee was born and raised in a North Korean border city, Hyesan, he conducted extensive cross-border business between North Korea and China and also worked with the Ryanggang Province Ministry of People’s Security, where he primarily focused on inter-provincial trading matters designed to generate funds. He received his bachelor’s in political science from Columbia University and master’s in International Security Policy (ISP) and Management from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He has participated in and advised various organizations’ projects and panels involving North Korea.

Sung-Ju Lee is the author of Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea. He is currently doing a doctoral program, on Fulbright Scholarship, in peace and conflict resolution at Carter School, George Mason University. He has a BA in political science and journalism from Sogang University; MA, on Chevening Scholarship, in international relations from University of Warwick.

Timothy Cho was born in North Korea, escaped twice, and imprisoned four times during his journey to find a democratic life. Since coming to the UK, he has achieved a BA degree in International Relations & Politics at the University of Salford and an MA degree in International Relations & Security at the University of Liverpool. After completing the degrees, he was an aide to a Member of the UK Parliament in 2018-19. From 2013 until today, he has been a public speaker for churches, governments, organisations, and universities across the UK and Europe – including addressing and taking part in the meetings at Westminster of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on North Korea. He is currently an Inquiry Clerk to the APPG on North Korea, and a UK Conservative Party Candidate for English local elections in May 2021. 

Dealing with North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses [Sejong Society event]

I know it sometimes seems like an impossible subject to practically address, but we have to keep on discussing NK’s human rights abuses and keep the subject salient as we collectively think of new ways to bring human rights to the people of North Korea.

Join me, Ambassador Robert King, and Dr. Sandra Fahy for a conversation tomorrow sponsored by the The Sejong Society of Washington, D.C. to discuss “Dealing with North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses”

Time/Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 6:00 p.m.

Sign up: https://lnkd.in/eNvVmME

Lumen’s Second Annual Open Call for Ideas

Lumen has launched our second annual Open Call for Ideas! If you have a great idea — a practical idea or a moonshot idea — that can enhance access to information for North Koreans, check out Lumen’s Open Call for Ideas on this link. While the instructions are in English and Korean, please feel free to submit an idea in any language. Thank you!

Join me at Oslo Freedom Forum 2020 (Online!)

Join me at the Human Rights Foundation’s Online OSLO FREEDOM FORUM 2020 next week (Sept 24-25 EST). As always, there will be incredibly inspirational and accomplished activists, journalists, philanthropists and advocates who will speak about the issues we all must care about.

I’ll be on a panel titled “State-Sponsored Hacking: The Kremlin, Saudi Arabia, and Hermit Kingdom” with Andy Greenburg and Iyad El-Baghdadi, moderated by Philippa Thomas. See you soon!

Register here: https://hopin.to/events/2020-oslo-freedom-forum

Become a partner for Free North Korea Radio’s Broadcast today!

I have been following this organization run by Mr. Kim Seong-Min and Suzanne Scholte. “Since 2006, Free North Korea Radio has broadcasted into North Korea. Voiced and produced by North Korean defectors now living in South Korea, we broadcast news, information, and hope into North Korea.”

This is the profile of Mr. Kim Seong-Min on their site:

“When we started, I thought, if just one person, just one North Korean was listening, that would be good enough,” Kim said. “But it’s not just one person.” – Kim Seong-Min, in an interview with CNN

“Seong-Min was born in Jagang Province, and raised in Pyongyang, DPRK. He enlisted in the DPRK army in 1978 and served for 10 years until he was accepted to Kim Hyung-jik College of Education as a commissioned officer student. After completing the program, he was stationed at the 620th Training Camp Art Propaganda Unit as a propaganda writer. Seong-Min defected in 1996 when it was discovered that he had been in contact with his uncle in South Korea and was going to be arrested for this “crime.” He fled to China, but has arrested and repatriated. As North Korean authorities were taking him by train to Pyongyang where he was to be publicly executed for leaving the country without permission, he managed to jump from the train and escape again. He finally made it to South Korea in 1999.

After resettling in South Korea, he finished his master’s degree in Literature at Joongang University, and Doctorate program in Myungji University. Seong-Min always desired to be a poet, but never forgetting those he left behind in South Korea, he has devoted his life to their freedom and human rights. He has become one of the most active North Korean defectors, serving as the president of North Korean Defectors’ Organization and deputy director of the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea. He founded Free North Korea Radio in 2004 because he felt North Koreans did not just need bread, they needed truth. For his work, Seong-Min has received numerous awards including the Reporters Without Borders’ Media Award and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy’s Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award.”

Check out their new English-language website to learn more about what FNKR has been doing — the impact that they’ve been having, and the power that radio broadcasts has on the world’s most closed society today. For Korean-speakers, check out their Youtube channel for fascinating video content!

Consider making a gift of https://freenorthkorearadio.org/donate-now/ !

Jangmadang Generation Documentary

I just re-watched Liberty in North Korea’s documentary titled “Jangmadang Generation” and was reminded of just how much work we as civilians can do to bring positive changes to the people of North Korea. If you are an engineer, researcher, philanthropist, technologist, chef, artist, musician, politician, athlete, a chill chronic Netflixer (that’s cool too), or simply human, and you want to get involved in bringing positive changes to the lives of people in North Korea, then you can. Today. You can donate $$ and/or skills to Liberty in North Korea, or the many organizations doing work in this space. If you want to chat more about ideas, reach out to me!

But yes, definitely check out this documentary. Sokeel Park, Hannah Song and their team did an incredible job highlighting the stories of the individuals in the film, as well as drawing out themes of the social changing across North Korean society, and ways that the young generation of North Koreans are simply different than those in the past. And it seems like they want change too.

Fundraiser for North Korean refugee’s graduate school tuition in Washington DC

Earlier this year, I had dinner with a new friend named April Kang. Over several hours of homemade Korean food, we got to know each other a bit and she shared with me her frightening story of escaping North Korea, her challenging times adjusting to South Korean society, and making her way to the United States to continue her studies. This woman — my age, maybe a few years younger — has experienced and witnessed such ugly aspects of humanity and the world we live in. And yet, she is *ALL IN* to get an education so that she can continue to thrive with knowledge and higher education as her weapons to fight and live a good life.

She just sent me a Gofundme link for her graduate school tuition. I know this is a very tough time for most people out there, but definitely read her story and if you are able, please consider contributing to her campaign. If you have any questions, I can connect you to her. The following is her story that’s also on her GoFundMe campaign. https://www.gofundme.com/f/tuition-for-north-korean-refugee

My name is Heasue and I was born in North Korea.

Until the age of 19, I was taught that North Korea was the greatest nation in the world. If we were to resist their communist goals and ideology, our entire family would be sent to political prison camps or publicly shot to death. They also taught that America was a wicked and cruel imperialist state. On my last day of mandatory military training in high school, we were forced to shoot a real Soviet gun at an American figure target. The sound of gunfire was loud; I shot three bullets myself and cried with the other girls in our class because we were afraid.

As a child, I experienced the worst famine in North Korea’s history. Thankfully, I didn’t starve due to my parents’ work, but the government took away my father’s business because it reached beyond the line of wealth an individual was allowed to possess. The incident shocked my mom, who then became ill with heart disease, and became worse with other complications like diabetes and cataracts. She died of cancer when I was 18.

After my mother’s death, I felt I had no reason to live in North Korea and felt completely hopeless.

I knew about the outside world to some extent. I had secretly watched foreign films like Titanic and read books like Gone With The Wind. Living in North Korea felt like being a lost frog trapped in a well—there was no freedom and it had already taken away my childhood. I didn’t want it to take away my future as well, so I decided to escape. I said my last goodbye to my hometown and my mother’s grave, thinking that I would return to see my family again in the near future. It has been 11 years since then.


I walked across the frozen Tumen River to China, where I was tricked into being sold to a Chinese man. Locked inside his home, I escaped by jumping out of a second story window. Ten months later, through the help of a broker, I arrived in Vietnam, and was arrested three times. Each time, I was able to miraculously escape from jail through the help of a kind Samaritan, who also guided me to Cambodia. There, I found safety at the South Korean embassy and was able to acquire travel approval to South Korea as a North Korean refugee.

Life in South Korea was not easy. I didn’t know how to use a bus card. I didn’t know what a bank was. And I didn’t know how to order coffee. Studying at school was also very difficult because the education system was completely different. But I survived through it all because I was hungry for knowledge. I graduated in South Korea with a Bachelor’s Degree within six years.

Right after graduation, I entered an internship program in Washington, D.C. where I worked with The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). Everything I learned about the U.S. in North Korea was a 180-degree difference from my actual experience. Having lived in several countries, I felt the least discrimination as a defector in America and had the most freedom to learn and think. Although I had to go back to South Korea after the end of my internship, I wanted to return to the U.S. to study there.

For the past year, I’ve been diligently studying English to prepare for graduate school and was recently accepted to a master’s program at an American university. I chose business administration to gain tangible skills and work-life experience for a stable career. With that, my goal is to help others, especially children in poverty who have no access to education. As I’ve experienced, anyone with proper education has the power to change their future. Since it’s a joint accelerated English/business program, the tuition costs $70,000 for two years.

Without access to student loans, bank loans, or scholarships due to my lack of U.S. citizenship, I’m seeking the help of those around me to pursue the next chapter of my studies. With your financial assistance, I will apply the same diligence and determination that helped get me to this point to my career.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



This image that Lebron James posted recently captured the power and meaning of Colin Kaepernick’s protest. I embarrassingly know nothing about the game of football or basketball. But protest, I get.

Some critics of Colin Kaepernick’s protesting police brutality against black people by kneeling during the National Anthem said that he was being unpatriotic.

Quite on the contrary, what is more patriotic than responsibly exercising one’s Constitutionally protected right to free speech on an issue that systematically harmed — and continues to harm — Americans?

The Human Race

This past week’s nationwide protests triggered by the unjust and senseless death of George Floyd refocused our attention here in America to the ongoing, structural injustices that inflict our nation today, 244 years after our nation’s founding. The blatant — as well as the less visible forms of — racism against African Americans continues today, everyday. We all know this. There have been so many documentaries, films, videos, books, articles, podcasts, lectures, sermons that highlight the historical and present injustices against African Americans shared online this past week, and I hope this mass circulation of educational materials and, more importantly, ways that people can practically change their actions and hearts continues.

As protests for racial justice and reconciliation grew around me, I struggled to think about what I can do as an individual. I was reminded by my pastor during our church service this morning that God commands that we love one another. He does not request or suggest that we love one another; He commands this. 1 John 4:20 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” There are so many verses in the Bible that command that we love one another, and condemns hate; even hate in the heart. After the commandment to love God, the Bible greatest commandment is to love thy neighbor. We are one human race, and by God’s grace I hope that we all — starting with me — accept this Holy command to love one another.

If interested, check out the resources on our church’s website.

Sermon titled “The Human Race” given by Pastor Dudley Rutherford this morning. For the sermon, start at minute 42. He’s the senior pastor at Shepherd Church.
Pastor Rutherford’s sister goes to Pastor Michael Todd’s Transformational Church in Tulsa Oklahoma. Our Pastor shared part of Pastor Todd’s sermon and discussion with us today. See Pastor Todd’s full sermon here.

Activism through Art: Kang Chun-Hyuk

I came across Kang Chun-Hyuk’s artwork recently, and noted how much information and heartbreak a young artist could expose about the brutality of the North Korean regime through his drawings and ‘live paintings.’ His talented work captures and showcases the systematic injustices revealed in individual lives of ordinary North Korean people. At the same time, he creatively exhibits hope and love he’s witnessed throughout his life. Once you watch one video of his live painting, I bet you won’t be able to stop (it’ll be worth it!). His full channel is here. If you are interested in purchasing his work, message him directly. Also, check out the great work that David Malik and NKHRW is doing to support artists (among other great programs they have).

About Kang Chun-Hyuk (citing NKHRW):

Born in Hamkyung Bukdo, Onsung Kun, North Korea, he escaped from North Korea in March 1998, crossing the cold Tumen River near the border with China. He majored in fine arts at Hongik University in Seoul, which is a very prestigious art school. He has been drawing and painting subjects related to human rights abuses in North Korea. His goal as an artist is to enlighten the world about the brutal abuses of North Korea’s authoritarian regime and to condemn North Korea’s human rights violations through his work. He has been exhibiting his work worldwide, including a solo exhibition in Prague, Czech Republic, and a group exhibition in Dresden, Germany. He is currently preparing an exhibition in the United States.

Interested in information freedom in North Korea? Submit your idea!

On behalf of Lumen, I am very excited to launch our first annual Open Call for Ideas. If you are interested in information freedom, check out our link and submit an idea: https://www.lumen.global/lumen-2020-open-call

Protest Point!

At a popular meeting spot inside the British Museum in London (usually next to the lion statue, which is behind these brilliant protest signage), the museum set up an area where children can create and share what they are protesting. Take a closer look at these — they will definitely give you hope for tomorrow (and a few chuckles as well).

Election Day! Go vote

A few friends who escaped from North Korea recently asked me why some Americans don’t vote. “If you CAN vote, why won’t you vote?” I had no answer for them. I told them I have no idea.


The desire to have your preference voiced in the form of a vote is a right that most people in this world do not have. Americans are privileged with the right to vote. Go vote!


Interest in North Korea at the UK Parliament

Lord David Alton and MP Fiona Bruce invited me to speak at the UK Parliament. More than anything, it was so encouraging for people of their stature to be so genuinely invested and interesting in helping people in and from North Korea. A very accomplished young man from North Korea who is studying in the UK was in the audience, along with many others who are actively involved in the issue of sending information into North Korea.

If you’re ever in London, check out the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea’s event schedule. They are probably one of the most active APPG groups in the UK parliament. You can check out their schedule on this link and follow them on Facebook.

On a fun note, my friends (Danny and Sam) and I photo-bombed Prime Minister Teresa May. 🙂


First Openly Gay North Korean Defector Speaks to New York Times

Normally, I try to avoid re-posting articles on the blog (even though there are so many good ones out there!) but this one was too good, too interesting, and too unique to not re-post.

Mr. Yeong-Jin Jang arrived in South Korea in 1997 after escaping North Korea and only recently came out to tell his story in an autobiographical novel, “A Mark of Red Honor.” Also, read this interview he gave with Mr. Choe Sang-Hun at New York Times, where he speaks of feeling like a “double alien” in South Korea.


What a story of courage!