Recent report by the International Crisis Group:
STRANGERS AT HOME: NORTH KOREANS IN THE SOUTH
Asia Report N°208 – 14 July 2011
As the number of defectors from North Korea arriving in the South has surged in the past decade, reconfiguring integration programs for them has become crucial.
Strangers at Home: North Koreans in the South, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, draws attention to the difficulties South Korea is facing in absorbing North Korean defectors. The two sides of the Demilitarised Zone have diverged so much in economics, politics, language and social organisation that people are now strangers to each other. The possibility that it one day might have to handle a vast outflow of refugees from a collapsing North looms over the South.
“Some South Koreans believe a rapid unification could come soon, but the economic and social realities suggest such an event would be very costly”, says Crisis Group’s North East Asia Deputy Project Director, Daniel Pinkston. “The difficulties of handling just over 20,000 refugees over a few decades should be a warning to those who wish to encourage the collapse of the North rather than a more gentle integration”.
Occasionally we will feature other volunteer organizations that are either helping a specific cause or bringing attention to the crisis in North Korea. It will take a network of passionate organizations to bring an end to the crisis.
First Steps is a Vancouver-based organization whose mission is to provide essential nutrients to young children through their Soymilk Program to combat the severe malnutrition problems in North Korea.
According to the United Nations and World Food Programme:
…between two and three million North Korean children (infants to age five) consistently fail to receive sufficient nutrients vital to their physical and mental development. This has resulted in almost an entire generation of youngsters whose growth has been stunted.
It goes without saying that malnutrition during these important stages of development will lead to long term health consequences including increased susceptibility to infections and other diseases.
First Steps’ food-aid programs are currently providing protein-rich, growth-promoting soymilk to North Korean children (infants to primary school) who have not been receiving the nutrients so vital to their mental and physical development.
We have been focusing on our VitaCow/VitaGoat program because of its great efficiency and effectiveness. One electrically-powered VitaCow machine, purchased and delivered to North Korea for about $7,000, processes soybeans into soymilk, enough to provide a cup each to more than 2,000 children per day. The non-electrical VitaGoat uses any burnable fuel, costs about $4,000 and produces enough soymilk for about 1,000 or more children per day.
First Steps buys some of its soybeans and has them shipped in to supply these machines when our North Korean partners are unable to provide their own. Our partners take responsibility for distribution of the beans to the VitaCow/VitaGoat sites, as well as for soymilk production and delivery.
See pictures of the program in action.
How do we know the program is working? The picture below says it all…
(more “smiley” pictures here)
With your help, First Steps can deliver more soymilk to more children to meet their nutritional requirements. Working together with other in-country organizations, as well as nutritionists and scientists at the Institute of Child Nutrition, we will continue to monitor and report on the measurable outcomes of the assistance you help to provide.
The U.S. Department of State released its 2010 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in early April.
This is what they have to say about North Korea:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is a dictatorship under the absolute rule of Kim Jong-il, general secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) and chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the “highest office of state.” The country has an estimated population of 23.5 million. Kim’s father, the late Kim Il-sung, remains “eternal president.” National elections held in March 2009 were not free or fair. Security forces did not report to civilian authorities.
Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The government subjected citizens to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives. There continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary detention, arrests of political prisoners, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and torture. There continued to be reports that pregnant female prisoners underwent forced abortions in some cases, and in other cases babies were killed upon birth in prisons. The judiciary was not independent and did not provide fair trials. Citizens were denied freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association, and the government attempted to control all information. The government restricted freedom of religion, citizens’ movement, and worker rights. There continued to be reports of severe punishment of some repatriated refugees and their family members. There were widespread reports of trafficking in women and girls among refugees and workers crossing the border into China.
The full report is available here (download PDF).
The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights co-hosted a seminar with the British and Netherlands Embassies to discuss two reports they released recently about the integration of North Korean defectors in South Korea and the violence against women in the North.
“Homecoming Kinsmen or Indigenous Foreigners?” examines the life and struggles of North Korean escapees trying to resettle in South Korea and other countries.
“Primarily educated and raised in a totalitarian country known for its huge digital divide with the rest of the world, North Koreans leave their country unprepared for the challenges of living in a capitalist, democratic, and multicultural societies, thus lacking the necessary skills to cope with the modern world,” said NKHR International Campaign and Cooperation Team head Joanna Hosaniak.
Among the young settlers, she continued, “They call themselves crows (because they are darker). They call South Koreans pigeons (because they look whiter). Those who have successfully integrated into South Korean society were called ‘magpies.’”
The second report, “The Battered Wheel of the Revolution. Report on Violence against Women in North Korea,” looks at the inequalities against women in North Korea.
“All North Koreans, from birth, learn traditional patriarchy, male dominance over women, and stereotyped gender roles,” said Hosaniak. “As a result, various types of cultural practices make women vulnerable to violence.
Congratulations to the organizers for putting on a fantastic fundraiser event!
And Thanks to everyone who came out to support HanVoice.
Please continue to follow HanVoice and look for new events and updates.
A Toronto Night (FUNdraiser)
Saturday March 19, 2011, 9pm
The Stealth Lounge
22 Cumberland Street (near Yonge & Bloor)
Celebrate the beginning of spring with drinks, music, and a bachelor auction at our first fundraising event of the year. Regular admission is $15 before 10pm, $20 after 10pm.
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Also this Saturday…
Training Session – HV202: Recent Developments in NK-SK Relations and its Implications
UPDATE: If you missed this conference last weekend, here is a nice write up of the event by Andrew Moran in the Toronto Headlines Examiner.
Visions for the Future of the North Korean Human Rights Movement
March 12, 2011, 2pm
Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto
170 St. George Street (@Bloor)
Featuring the keynote speakers Barry Devolin, Consul General Ji-In Hong, and Reverend Yoon (Chairman of the Citizens’ Alliance).
Click here for more information.
Or Check out this Poster