Our new name: Bluebird NK

Dear  Readers,

For the past three years, Everyone’s Free has served us very well, but we have always wanted to have a name with a bit more significance.

We found that the bluebird was a common symbol of happiness throughout different societies and times, and it was also in the Belgian play, The Blue Bird, where two children seek out the magical bluebird of happiness only to find that is was in their backyard all along. We think that the name, Bluebird NK reflects our earnest desire to help North Korean defectors find happiness in their new lives. They have risked everything to escape oppression, and they deserve more than just the bare sustenance most have.

With our new name, we will to set a higher standard for ourselves as a non-profit organization, and dedicate ourselves fully to the educational development of North Korean defectors in both the US and South Korea.

Sincerely,

John J.S. Park

Founder and President

Our new t-shirt design

The new t-shirts, above, are arriving January 13th!

And our trusty old design

 

Holidays at Kumkang School

Happy Holidays!

We have heard from Kumkang School that they have three new students this year, and while we could not visit this year, we still wanted to give them a warm welcome to their new home. So for this holiday season, we got each child a winter coat and a pair of shoes:

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On the far left is also Jee-Yong, who we helped defect just two years ago. He has grown so fast that he could not fit into the coat we sent him last year, and he has been doing so well in middle school that we couldn’t just leave him out.

And we couldn’t leave out the volunteer staff and teachers of Kumkang School either, who have worked tirelessly all year for the students. Hopefully with these gloves they will never come to Kumkang School with cold hands again. In return they sent us some wonderful christmas cards that you can see below:

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An Interview with Author and Journalist, Blaine Harden

Blaine Harden

Blaine Harden, with Shin Dong-Hyuk on the left, is the author of:

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What inspired you to start you work on matters involving N. Korea?

A: When I was covering Northeast Asia for the Washington Post between 2007-10, I was asked by my boss to focus on North Korea — and find something fresh. In the course of my work, I met and interviewed Shin Dong-hyuk, who was born in a North Korean labor camp and escaped. Later, I asked Shin to work with me on a book about his life. The book was, to my surprise, an international bestseller. Since then, I have written a second book about North Korea, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot (2015). It focuses on the founding of the country — and the dark legacy of Great  Leader Kim Il Sung. Now, I am working on a third Korea-related book that examines American behavior in the Korean War and beyond.

What were your original intentions in writing Escape from Camp 14, as well as The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot?

A: To explain for a mass audience how North Korea treats its people and why. I have tried to find accessible, exciting stories that grab the imagination of a general reader. The idea is to tell a tale that is so interesting that a reader doesn’t realize he or she is learning history, political science, and current affairs.

How did your books effect the international movement for N. Korean human rights?

A: Escape from Camp 14 was a significant factor in pushing the U.N. to investigate North Korea for crimes against humanity. The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to refer the Kim government to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. That vote was non-binding. A binding vote must be approved by the UN Security Council and it has not yet occurred. China and Russia have threatened to veto any such referral.

We are a non-profit organization run by students around the world, do you have any advice or message for the young people in the world who want to get involved in N. Korean human rights?

A: First, read some of the many great books that have appeared in recent years about North Korea. They include: Nothing to Envy, The Aquariums of Pyongyang, A Kim Jong Il Production, The Two Koreas, The Girl With Seven Names, and Under the Same Sky.
Then join forces or raise money for other organizations that help refugees and raise awareness. They include LiNK, Liberty in North Korea; and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

(Blaine Harden and Shin Dong-Hyuk photo Source/link–http://www.ifiberone.com/news/grantcounty/moseslake/bestselling-author-shares-north-korean-escapee-s-experience/article_a442d386-98c9-11e2-b70e-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=image&photo=0)

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On a summer day in Detroit, we chanced upon this youth education group brightening the city with their choir. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to spark some activism in these kids, as well as some great pictures.

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The 3rd Annual Korean Dinner in Pictures

Even better turn out than last year!
Even better turn out than last year!
Our members and volunteers serving delicious Korean food
Our members and volunteers serving delicious Korean food to our guests

Our Dinner Entertainment

Hansori Korean Percussion Group of Eastern Michigan University setting an exciting mood for the dinner
Hansori Korean Percussion Group of Eastern Michigan University setting an exciting mood for the dinner
Art Lab J's performance, a beautiful representation of captivity and suffering in N. Korea
Art Lab J’s performance, a beautiful representation of captivity and suffering in N. Korea
A surprising show of illusions for the whole family by Han Ma Um Charity Org.
A surprising show of illusions for the whole family by Han Ma Um Charity Org.
Eun-Kyung Lee's richly authentic Korean fan dance performance
Eun-Kyung Lee’s rich and authentic Korean fan dance performance

Our Speakers

Translating for Distinguished Korean Actor Jee-Il Han speaking for N. Korean Human Rigths
Translating for Distinguished Korean Actor Jee-Il Han speaking for N. Korean Human Rigths
Mr. Jee-Il Han collecting donations from the crowd
Mr. Jee-Il Han using his charm to collect donations from the crowd
Congresswoman Dingell on the importance of the activism of our youth
Congresswoman Dingell on the importance of the activism of our youth
Speaking of our many accomplishments, our values, and our future plans
Speaking of our accomplishments, our values, and our future plans
Principal Do of Washtenaw International  High School
Principal Do of Washtenaw International High School
Washtenaw International High's Chapter Advisor Ms. Joslyn Young congratulating our senior members
Washtenaw International High’s Chapter Advisor Ms. Joslyn Young congratulating our senior members
The senior members, who promise to form new chapters of EFO in their colleges; from left to right: Nico Borbeley, Dante Spencer, Jun-Sung Park, Shauna Paulson, Benjamin Bryant, and Brent Schin
The senior members, who promise to form new chapters of EFO in their colleges; from left to right: Nico Borbely, Dante Spencer, Jun-Sung Park, Shauna Paulson, Benjamin Bryant, and Brent Schin

Miscellaneous 

Selling T-Shirts, as always
Selling T-Shirts, as always
More satisfied guests
Satisfied guests
Satisfied Guests
Some more satisfied guests
Member group photo!
Korean Dinner Team group photo, with clueless baby (on far right)

 

Preparing for the 3rd Annual Korean Dinner – WIHI Chapter

With our 3rd Korean Dinner, we hope to continue our pattern of annual growth with more food, guests, and entertainment for all. All of the funds we raise will be used to help our cause of improving the lives of North Korean defector children, and supporting their education with our scholarship program.

We owe our dinner entertainment to the generosity of Eun-Gyung Lee, who will perform solo traditional Korean dances; Hansori, Eastern Michigan University’s Korean Samul Nori percussion group; magician Jee-Il Han; and contemporary dancer Joo-Ri Jung.

Additionally, the Everyone’s Free Organization thanks all of the generous stores and restaurants (below) who have promised donations to make our third annual Korean Dinner at Washtenaw International High School possible.

Hana Korean Restaurant
Hana Korean Restaurant
BeWon Korean Restaurant
BeWon Korean Restaurant
Hyundai Market
Hyundai Market
Galleria Market
Galleria Market
Manna Oriental Market
Manna Oriental Market

We also thank Nagomi restaurant and the Soo Park Law Office (not shown above) for their generous donations.

St. Paul’s Co-ed College Raises Awareness of the Plight of North Korean Refugees, Shows Parts of “The Interview”

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For the Hong Kong Chapter of Everyone’s Free, an awareness-raising campaign was held with the enthusiastic support from the local team members and teachers. The campaign displayed pictures, posters and artworks showing the current situation of North Korean refugees, with the team members acting as narrators to provide more detailed explanations to the schoolmates. Participants also watched a few interesting clips from the recent comedy “The Interview”. In the end the chapter president Charlie Wang gave a speech on how students could contribute to helping the North Korean refugees. The participants all expressed that they have not only gained much more knowledge on North Korean refugees, but also had a great time.
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Christmas 2014 at Kumkang School for North Korean Children

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Everyone’s Free Greenhills members, Jee-Hyun Kim and Alex Wegrzyn unloading our gifts

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aThis yeat, a few Everyone’s Free Greenhills chapter members spent their Christmas in Korea at Kumkang School for North Korean children. They brought the gifts for the school we have prepared and served as mentors and volunteer teachers for the students throughout their winter.

Holiday Gifts for North Korean Orphans at Kumkang School

Gallery Walk 2014 003Knowing that the students at Kumkang School greatly enjoy the holiday season as well as that many of these students suffer from malnourishment having come recently from North Korea, we decided to gift a personlized letter as well as a year’s worth of vitamins to every student at Kumkang School for North Korean Children.

These gifts will be brought to the students this summer during our annual winter teaching visit to Kumkang School.

 

Update: N. Korean Refugee Children of Laos Face Execution and Prison Camp

Last year, 9 North Korean refugee children were forcibly repatriated from Laos by the North Korean embassy due to the disturbing, 17 day inaction of the South Korean embassy to retrieve the children from the Laos Police.

The truly grave consequences of the South Korean embassy’s inaction have finally materialized as 2 of the 9 refugee children were executed, while the rest were sent to Camp 14, a horrific North Korean prison camp notorious for egregious human rights abuses where most of its inmates spend their whole lives.

For further reading: http://www.bluebirdnk.com/2013/06/01/9-north-korean-orphan-refugees-repatriated-most-likely-to-face-death/

UN Resolution Pushes for North Korea Referral to ICC

http://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2014/11/19/un-pushes-against-north-korean-human-rights-record
http://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2014/11/19/un-pushes-against-north-korean-human-rights-record

With a 111-19 vote and 55 abstentions, the United Nations passed a resolution urging the Security Council to prosecute North Korea in the International Criminal Court. This was incited by a report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s report on North Korea’s widespread human rights abuses.

Although this was a significant step forward for the international human rights regime, more needs to be done as China and Russia, nations that have voted against the resolution, both have veto power in the Security council and will most likely oppose any efforts to bring North Korea to justice in the ICC. In addition to the actions of China and Russia, North Korea has also opposed the international humanitarian efforts agains them by making tactical concessions such as releasing american prisoners (including Kenneth Bae), threatening further nuclear testing, and discrediting the North Korean defectors who have brought first hand testimony against North Korea. Attacks againts North Korean defector and humanitarian activist Mr. Shin Dong-Hyuk were especially severe: “They put my dad in the media, and broadcasted my life is a complete lie, threatened me and my family, and list is exhaustive” described Mr. Shin Dong-Hyuk.

By opposing bringing North Korea to the ICC despite the clear evidence that establish North Korea’s regime as the worst human rights abuser in the world, China and Russia would be placed in very difficult situations as world superpowers that turn a blind eye towards egregious crimes against humanity. It is the hope of the Everyone’s Free Organization that China and Russia realize the valuable opportunity to intervene in North Korea that would be missed as well as the greatly detrimental precedents their actions would set for the international community.

Gallery Walk: The Reality in North Korean Prison Camps

Gallerywalk 2014 (2) We wanted to raise awareness of the unjust treatment the people of North Korea suffer in prison camps to the whole of Washtenaw International High School. Thanks to the generosity of the South Korean Consulate General in Chicago, we were able to hold an exhibition of their gallery set detailing conditions in the prison camps after school. We hope that this exhibition will inspire both students and teachers alike to stand action against the conditions of the North Korean prison camps.Gallerywalk 2014 (5) Gallerywalk 2014 (10) Gallerywalk 2014 (11) Gallerywalk 2014 (4) Gallerywalk 2014 (7) Gallerywalk 2014 (1) Gallerywalk 2014 (6) Gallerywalk 2014 (9) Gallerywalk 2014 (12) Gallerywalk 2014 (13)

Gallerywalk 2014 (8)