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Harvard students will kick off a new human rights group dedicated to promoting freedom in autocratic North Korea on Wednesday evening, as the campus chapter of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) holds its first event.
LiNK is part of a broader international organization formed in March 2004 at Yale University by comedian Paul Kim and Yale student Adrian Hong. The group has grown to over 70 chapters internationally over the two years.
Edward Y. Lee ’08, the founder of the Harvard chapter, wrote in an e-mail that his motivations for organizing the group were the human rights violations committed by the North Korean regime, which he deemed “among the worst, if not the worst, in the world today.”
“[M]illions of people are forced in the concentration camps, not unlike those of the Holocaust,” Lee wrote. “There they are forced into labor, and many are tortured through inhumane practices.”
In addition to human rights, the national LiNK group has made assisting refugees crossing the Korean-Chinese border one of its key issues. It claims that hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees remain in hiding in China.
“LiNK maintains underground orphanages for North Korean children in China and works closely with partners in supporting shelters for abandoned children and trafficked women,” Hong, now LiNK’s executive director, wrote in an e-mail. “Among those in our shelters include women who had been trafficked as sexual slaves, orphans, and terminally ill or disabled individuals.”
Like the national organization—which attempts to raise public awareness while also working directly with governments and NGOs—the Harvard LiNK chapter plans a combination of events on campus, beginning with a screening of the documentary “Seoul Train” at its launch event this Wednesday.
The group also has plans for a North Korea awareness week, a benefit concert to raise money for orphans, and an art exhibition this semester.
“People here [at] Harvard should learn about what’s going on,” Lee wrote, “and it is our goal to educate them.”
—PARAS D. BHAYANI
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