Hey guise,

As some of you in Seoul might remember, a few months ago we did a fundraiser event for Liberty in North Korea, and we raised a decent amount of money for them. Now that it’s Project for Awesome season, we were hoping to do a little bit more.

When a lot of people think of North Korea, their first response is to think about nukes and crazy dictators, which is true, but it overshadows the bigger issue in North Korea, which is the humanitarian crisis going on there. Liberty in North Korea helps the people in North Korea, and we’re hoping that we can help out with Liberty in North Korea as a result.

We’ve teamed up to make this video and this post. The rest of it from the next paragraph onwards is written by them, which I only think is fair, because they have a better vocabulary than we do when it comes to describing what’s happening in North Korea and what they’re doing to help. Give it a read. Even if you can’t help with clicking, hopefully we can at least raise awareness of the situation:

Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) is an international NGO that works for the North Korean people. Based in California, with staff in South Korea, New York and Southeast Asia, they work to shift the international focus away from Kim Jong-un and nuclear weapons and on to the people who are driving grassroots change in their country. They also work to support that change from the bottom up.

How do they do that? Well, simply put, they EMPOWER THE PEOPLE.

When a North Korean decides to risk their life to make an escape over the border into China, they are still not safe. Refugees caught in China are sent back to North Korea to face the sometimes fatal consequences of their ‘treason’. Those that hide in China lack any basic rights and are vulnerable to extortion, human trafficking and exploitation.

LiNK helps bring these refugees to safety. They work within a secret 3,500 mile rescue route assisting North Koreans out of China and into Southeast Asia, from where they can resettle to countries where they can be safe and free. Many North Koreans then begin their new lives in South Korea and America.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Adjusting to a new culture and society can bring many challenges. LiNK helps with this resettlement process, assisting with their education and connecting them to support systems and opportunities so they can fulfill their potential in their new lives.

Many defectors have family and friends back in North Korea. In turn, they use their new-found freedom to support these loved ones. They are even able to send funds through broker networks back in to North Korea, and the significance of this money is huge. Not only does it cover the basic needs of many that receive it, it also provides opportunities never before available to them. It empowers them to participate in the newly formed markets.

For decades, the North Korean government mandated that people depend on the regime for their basic needs–food, clothing, supplies, etc. However, due to economic decline the North Korean government could no longer supply even the most basic of items to their people, such as rice. As a result, resourceful North Koreans turned to selling what they could on the black market and began importing goods from China. Many of these market activities are still illegal, but as time goes on, the markets have become entrenched and the authorities have no choice but to accept these flourishing local economies.

Why are these markets significant?

Not only do these markets empower the people to purchase basic necessities once more but they also increase the flow of outside information into the country. DVDs, USBs, computers, cell phones, radios, and other banned materials are bought and sold in these markets. These technologies are used to learn about the outside world, improve businesses, and to connect with family outside North Korea – all things forbidden by the regime.

South Korean broadcasts can be heard on these illegal radios. South Korean and American films and dramas are also very popular. Many North Korean defectors have cited this contact with the outside world as the spark that caused them to question the ruling regime. The world as presented to them their whole lives is in stark contrast to the one they can now see.

You can help!

This video is competing in Project for Awesome‘s 2013 YouTube competition. The videos with the top views in the 48 hours of December 17-18 can win TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars for their charity! So just by watching and sharing this video, you can help CHANGE A LIFE! ….. TWEET IT! SHARE IT! RE-POST!

This video was made with the support and efforts of the Seoul Rescue Team. We are an all-volunteer group here in South Korea that promotes the work Liberty in North Korea does. If you are interested in joining us in supporting this life-changing work, you are welcome to donate on our group fundraising page HERE.

100% of these donations are used to fund rescues. It takes $2500 to bring one refugee hiding in China safely to freedom. These funds are used for transit, food, broker payments, lodging, and other necessities. For an exact breakdown of how funds are used, visit this page for more information. Liberty in North Korea is a registered 501(c)3 and donations are tax deductible.”

  1. Hi Simon and Martina! I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for bringing this to our attention. This is such an amazing organisation.

  2. I heard about a story about a North Korean Defector looking to run for a spot in South Korea’s Parliament? Is that True?

  3. Too bad I missed the voting period… Anyone know when/where the charities who get the money will be announced? I looked at the P4A website but it was a bit unclear to me.

  4. Kind of topical tangent, but I just saw the funniest tweet from a South Korean who said that Dennis Rodman is trying to reenact that episode of 30 Rock where Tracy is friends with Kim Jong-il.

  5. I’m late but hoping I can help. This is a good cause.

  6. I see it now. I thought it somehow got deleted but this whole thing kind of confuses me sometimes with how they order comments and stuff. So I found it after I made the comment. I thought I was logged in and deleted it? But I guess I wasn’t and didn’t realize it. Sorry Simon and Martina! *facepalm* I mean exactly though. That’s my whole thing. I’ve listened to my share of defectors talk about this and I haven’t heard any of them talk about sending back money. Do they exist? Perhaps. According to the Ministry of Unification in 2012 just under 24,000 have escaped. I just haven’t heard of it happening before. It’s way too dangerous. I shared a video else where, if you want to find it, of two young brothers (like their late teens or early 20’s) who escaped. Their father was ill so he couldn’t make it and stayed behind. As soon as they left the authorities knew they had escaped and were monitoring their father. ALL phone calls in the DPRK are monitored as well. Doesn’t matter who you are. Visitor or the most loyal citizen in the country. The govt is so damn paranoid. The young man talks about how they were looking for him and his brother which is why they were watching their father. One point they took their father in to question him and ended up torturing him and took him back home where he died a few days later. The young man was able to establish contact inside the DPRK once he got to South Korea and found out how his father was and that he was being watched by the govt. Some defectors talk about their families back home and some just say they’d rather not talk about it. It seems too painful. How did she get all this money? The last time I checked the South Korean govt had a ban on hiring defectors (which isn’t helpful imo and I don’t understand why). So unless things have changed in the past yr or two there’s no way she could have gotten all this cash on her own unless this org was helping her. Just smuggling in anything is very risky and dangerous. There are guards at the border where they escape and trade. People will swallow things so they don’t get caught (esp with things like thumb drives). So how could you get all this cash in? You can’t even get in a thumb drive without swallowing it and pooping it out later. The video claims it took six months to escape. It takes six months to get a social security card alone. How long do you think it takes to get from the border in China to Thailand? The story just doesn’t match what other defectors have talked about. There are plenty of video’s on youtube about defectors leaving. They all say pretty much the same thing even if their reasoning’s for leaving are different. One man left who was a guard and he sure as hell didn’t try to establish contact back in the DPRK out of fear of being found and taken back.

    • I’ve just been reading, listening, and watching anything and everything I can about the DPRK for several yrs now. I’m a socialist so I wanted to know more about the DPRK so that’s what intrigued me about them at first. And imo they definitely have nothing to do with socialism. It’s a dynasty and military power rules there cause they have no economy cause the govt is so paranoid about anything with the outside world. Some fears are understandable and all but most are just unfounded. If they would realize that perhaps they wouldn’t be so harsh about things and things could change. I think that’s what would make things change there.

      I don’t think so. I didn’t pay attention to any of that. I listened to what they were talking about and things just don’t make any sense. Like with the money. The govt in the DPRK has always seemed to know about everything including when people leave. They watch the border with China where people use to escape/trade and China watches the border. It’s dangerous during the day so people always seem to leave at the deep hours of night. If this family out of nowhere in months time was getting larges sums of cash it would be too suspicious by the govt authorities. Yet I’m supposed to believe they weren’t questioned or tortured about this? The govt didn’t know the girl left where they did for everyone else? They questioned and tortured other people’s families to try to find them but not this girl? What makes her so special? And the underground market is not new. I’ve known about it for a couple of yrs now.

  7. I’m part of a LiNK club at my university. The human rights situation in North Korea is abominable, and things don’t get much better after refugees make the all too dangerous trip across the border into China. Thank you Simon and Martina for promoting this incredibly worthy cause.

  8. For anyone who wants to get more involved with activism in groups that work with defectors here are some I found-





    It would be really nice if you all could interview defectors and people who work with them and find out how people can get more involved in the refugee community whether in the South or the US. Also, for anyone interested in helping with refugee’s just look in your local area of law offices that deal with refugees or non-profits that help. I know my town has some places that you can get involved with so I’m sure lots of cities do. Get involved. Don’t just spam the internet and later forget!

  9. There are lots of people in the South who have been working with defectors for years. There’s a school there as well. Check this out for more information. I’m sure you can find out how you can donate there and help. Basically they help with education since youth from the DPRK aren’t educated like their counterparts in the South-


  10. I’m sorry but all this reminds me too much of the Kony 2012 thing that turned out to be a scam. Whatever happened to that anyways? People did the same thing. Spammed the shit out of the internet to “get rid of Kony” even though he hadn’t been in Uganda for a couple of yrs (he was in neighboring countries). This video left out a lot of things and also is misleading in some. For ex, the market the voice over talks about is NOT new. It’s been around for a couple of yrs now. People go there to trade anything and everything they have. It is not about going against the govt but about surviving to buy food and clothes and other needed items because there’s no economy in the DPRK (however, Kim JongUn is wanting to change that). I also am doubtful of this girl’s claim that she sent tons of money back to the DPRK in months. It would be too suspicious. I’ve listened to other defectors (you can find their video’s on youtube) and it’s very dangerous. It’s already been brought up but I also recommend Lisa Ling’s documentary “Inside North Korea.” About halfway through she starts talking about escaping the DPRK and how dangerous it is. A pastor in Seoul helps out along with paid individuals and volunteers who do missionary work. It can be very expensive. For the smuggling in money there’s only one way to really smuggle in stuff and that’s through the river talked about with China. It’s well known for being an escape route/trade route and as such the military has guards there so you have to be careful. I believe it was Ling’s doc where she showed someone smuggling in a thumb drive and they swallowed it so they wouldn’t get caught. If you’re caught escaping you could be put to death or in a labor camp. Other defectors have talked about how they had to completely cut off ties to their families because it’s too dangerous for them to be in contact and/or they fear getting found and taken back to the DPRK. If this girl was sending back all this money it would be too suspicious and her family could get thrown in a labor camp or probably executed would be my guess. There’s so many holes with this. I don’t want people to get scammed again with another fad campaign where lots of money is supposed to be raised and then the people just disappear. There are real people who have been doing this work for a long time. You can see them on youtube. My post about this- http://littlepinky82.tumblr.com/post/70324032812/my-thoughts-on-liberty-north-korea Oh and also a couple yrs ago I started hearing about South Korean culture becoming popular even in Pyongyang. Even politicians and their kids were enjoying things like singing happy birthday like they do in the South, Girls Generation was rumored to be popular and trot pop music as well as historical dramas. I never heard any reliable reports about people getting killed for it. Speaking of all this I think it would be really nice if you guys interviewed people in Seoul who do this work. They seem very approachable and I’m sure they’d love to talk!

  11. This documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cVOrUMWaJ0) really raised awareness of what the reality of an escape from North Korea is like. It made me really passionate about the subject. If you are interested in learning more about this cause then I recommend it, as well as a book called Nothing to Envy. I’ll share this video and encourage others to do so as well. Thanks for supporting such a great cause and raising awareness of a situation I could not imagine living in.

    • I also recommend this- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zrebN7mV8o

      He talks about leaving and the difficulty and how his father was monitored when he and his brother left. The govt knows when people leave. So why didn’t this girl’s family get monitored? If they were having all this cash flow in from nowhere it would be suspicious.

      • Hi, Yes I’ve seen this also, the accounts of reality in North Korea are all compelling and the BBC documentary in particular has always stayed with me. I suspect the example in the video is a composite example and not a specific one.

        Sadly it is the case that some people who have finally gained access to the outside world in one way or another, by receiving money, phones or internet access have been publically executed. It must be a really hard choice if you escape as to whether you send assistance to family members knowing that they may be being monitored and it could result in execution for them. But how would you just leave them? I’ve also heard of family members being punished for a member of the family escaping even with no extra contact.

        North Korea is highly secretive and it’s hard to get detailed information easily but something has to be done. I don’t have the answers but no one should be forced to live under a regime that they do not agree with.
        You mention that this reminds you of the Kony movement but to me it really doesn’t, mainly because this is a situation I have been interested in and concerned about for years. It is well documented in mainstream media (as opposed to coming to most people’s attention via one video on the internet. Now I’m certainly not against things coming to people’s attention via the internet but for me this seems to have a solid grounding of information behind this movement and, as such, I’m very happy to support it and bring it to people’s attention.

  12. It’s hard for some of us to imagine what that must be like. They have to go through all of that and some people won’t even click a share button? I’m all for helping this organization out! I think this is awesome, we should all try to help out as much as we can, seriously!

  13. I’m not completely sure if its true but I heard that Google has a system where if one user is dectected to refreshing their page an abnormal amount of times then the system automatically freezes your account, as in it doesn’t count your accounts views anymore in the system for a amount of time. I heard it was installed after some TV shows started using youtube views as a form of voting and also because of the monetization of views.

  14. Hey guys, SUPER GREAT, IMPORTANT CAUSE! ;O; So glad you’re working with such an important charity!

    I just wanted to point out that a couple of really important links in the final two paragraphs or so are non-existent! Like where we can donate as individuals, or the break-down of costs! It’d be great if those links were added! :D

    Already sharing the heck out of this, I really hope it helps those individuals! We are so lucky to live in such a free society, I can’t even imagine a forced-labour camp there, or even many of the living conditions there.

  15. Also, if anyone is curious…..David Guttenfelder is the chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press (and one of my personal favorites) and he’s in Pyongyang every few weeks. I have absolutely no idea how, but he’s been allowed to photograph and Instagram photos from inside. http://instagram.com/dguttenfelder

  16. EYK working with LiNK makes me feel all warm and fuzzy! Coincidentally, last May (before I became a Nasty) I did my undergrad senior thesis on the the various theories regarding ways to incorporate human rights into the international conversation on North Korea, and LiNK was one of my big research resources. It’s so incredibly frustrating to follow the multilateral talks between the US, China, DPRK, ROK, Japan, Russia, etc. and not see human rights mentioned once despite conditions being absolutely horrible. Every country has their own political and economic interests, but it should be about people and not politics! Sharing the crap out of this video!

  17. I’m going to have this video on its own playlist and have it on repeat all the time. :)

  18. my mouse wont work after i shared the hell out of this video >.<

  19. I’ve shared on every platform that I could. Oh wait, *goes to AFF…now I have.

    I cried. I thought of everything I take for granted, like the choice whether or not to watch a drama or use the internet. I’ll do as much as I can to spread this message. I can click a mouse. It’s the least I can do.

  20. Let’s Go Nasties! Share the hell out of this video!

  21. Omg please tell me their not the only ones trying not to cry because of this video T-T

  22. Thanks guys! Seriously, I am happy there are changes made to North korea, even small, considering what shitty lives they must live. All documentation we have ever received makes it look as if they got stuck in the 50’s, and those videos are mainly from military camps, which more then likely (considering what North korea is), is better than most homes. As well, news spread in North Korea makes me think of old video clips of news when the TV was yet very, very young.

    This is another piece I know, that this video didn’t provide. North korean refugees that are found in China are sent back to North Korea again. This isn’t really because China hates North koreans, but historical establishments makes it difficult for them to turn around and help these people. Remember, China was at one point very much like North Korea, which got the countries closer. While South Korea more or less befriended the US after the Korean Wars, China long disliked this relationship and sided with the communistic North Korea. Today, true enough, China has changed, but not enough that it values North Korea enough to cut all of these bonds. They literally put themselves in a spot where as long as North Korea doesn’t start some sort of ridiculous war, they will most likely not do much. It’s like an annoying thorn in the heel. While China does require some power over North Korea, being the bigger economic grounds, later news show they do get more and more annoyed with how the country do things, as South Korea is today a much bigger economic ground, and the southern part also has an equally long history (as it used to be one country).

    I seriously hope we manage to get this video up on the P4A, because this sounds right to do. Freedom is historically best achieved when the masses join, not when outside forces go in and conquer. I am pretty sure now that North koreans are really tired of their lifestyles, but have no clue what to do. Education could help that.

    I am not stating we should start a war, but I do like what they do. A government without people cannot rule a coutntry, at least not within the peoples heart. I truly hope this kind of change can bring something, without bloodshed. I am pretty sure if North Korea can pick themselves up, and learn from the world, they can change what they are. It will most likely take many, many, many years before we see Korea runited (I’ve heard South Koreans really don’t wanna rejoin with North Korea until their economy and social statuses catch up with theirs).

    For those share-loving kpop fans, good luck!

    ~From someone who will always have Korea as part of her heart.

    • “Freedom is historically best achieved when the masses join, not when outside forces go in and conquer.“
      So true, but some people do really not get that it works best this way. And yet: sometimes some kind of “outside force“ is required in the one or another way.

      “I’ve heard South Koreans really don’t wanna rejoin with North Korea until their economy and social statuses catch up with theirs“
      I’ve heard that too – and even if it sounds harsh: It makes sense. Here in Germany we had a similar situation – but there are two important differences: The people there (DDR) had no fun – but in comparison they way better off than the people in NK. And second: That ended a few decades ago. There were parents who didn’t see their kids grow up, who wanted to get their families back together, point being: they knew “the people on the other side“. As for NK and SK: I think because so much time passed the people (and former family members) are complete strangers to each other, there is just no “back together“ only a “getting to know again“.
      And of course the economic: I dare say the DDR was still better off than NK is today – and yet the BRD suffered greatly when they “took them in“ – and we still see the differences and Germany is still paying off the DDRs debts. I don’t even want to imagine what (negative) impact that would have on SK.

      (And sorry this is kinda long, but I felt the need to make this short comparison )

      • This year, North and South Korea met at the border (literally a conference room split in half according to the border) to discuss separated families. A law was passed that family members could meet each other legally…or something like that.

      • “Here in Germany we had a similar situation – but there are two important differences: The people there (DDR) had no fun – but in comparison they way better off than the people in NK. And second: That ended a few decades ago. There were parents who didn’t see their kids grow up, who wanted to get their families back together, point being: they knew “the people on the other side“ ”

        I know, I live in sweden, that wall officially fell the year after I was born, and I’ve been to Germany a couple of times. Really, you guys had to go through A LOT after the war.

        “As for NK and SK: I think because so much time passed the people (and former family members) are complete strangers to each other, there is just no “back together“ only a “getting to know again“.”

        I know at some points the borders have opened for families to reunite… this very much depends on who governs South Korea and how either parties interest in this to happen. Literally, there are still interests to meet with each other, even if the split happened long ago. The families who split still hear about either sides, but it may simmer down the longer time goes.

  23. This videos was so beautiful. It’s wonderful to know that you guys are using this platform you’ve built to put some good back into the world. I promise I’ll spam until my family disinherit me and I’m friendless! x x x

  24. Shared it on Twitter… and hope that the few I’m in contact with there (and who have an awful lot of followers) share it as well.

    But leaving out the whole sharing and award stuff, this video reminded me of something. In fact two things. First: no matter where you are and who you are you can always “do something about it“, you can always help in some way. Second: Why I’m studying what I’m studying. Right now I have kind of a motivation-low (why should I go to the lectures and stuff when I can party all night and sleep all day – what I’ve done for the past two weeks. Non stop.) But by reminding me of my goals I think I just got my motivation back. On this note: Time to do some research on LiNK, North Korea in General – and of course start studying for my upcoming exams.

    • I think, personally, having a job that deals with issues like this is helping more than just tweeting something. I mean look at the whole Kony 2012 that happened. You never hear anything about that anymore do you? They raised all this money and you didn’t ever hear anything about it. You gotta check places like this and their finances. Just to make sure you know? I know for myself since I’ve been studying the DPRK I’ve been wanting to help refugees in general. There’s a great law firm in my town that helps refugees from all over the world and I’ve been wanting to do that as well. I think it’s good to do research on Link and make sure you know what you’re getting into. With the DPRK my suggestion with them is to read, listen, and watch everything and anything you can on them. Don’t just go with your biases. Go with anything that is out there. All humans have a bias and we gotta check ourselves for that.

      • “having a Job that deals with issues like this…“ that’s exactly what this reminded me of. Why I really go to law school. But being surrounded by a lot of people who just study a little law and then want to make a lot of money you can’t help but to jump on the party-train. But that’s not what I study for and I needed that reminder.

        And of course you should not blindly donate / support something without knowing anything. In fact I am very critical when it comes to NGOs. I believe many of them do more damage than good but from what I know until know LiNK got the right angle.

        When it comes to the tweeting I think it comes down to the definition of “helping“ / “doing something“. Raising awareness of a problem is a big step – in my opinion. And with such events and by sharing and tweeting you enable others to become aware of a problem they never thought could exist. It is a more abstract idea of doing something but it is something. And you can always inform yourself and others, so in some way you can always do something.

        • Oh yeah. Everyone does. I’m studying with the paralegal degree so I can sort of relate. There’s lots of law firms out there and you can have a really good career financial wise. But yeah I want to help out too and have been lately thinking about doing so with refugee’s. There’s at least two firms in my area that do this work. But I also have a passion for business law and intellectual property so…

          I’ve never heard of them before. It just reminds me a lot of Kony 2012 and they just vanished and you don’t hear anything out of them anymore. They were around for a couple of yrs before their whole internet campaign. I just don’t want people to get scammed again like with Kony and Komen. Some things though don’t make sense with their claims in the video. Here is my post about it- http://littlepinky82.tumblr.com/post/70412900104/post-about-defectors-from-north-korea-to-south-korea

          Some things just don’t make sense according to what other defectors have talked about with their escape. It can take a long time. And if you’re female you have the chance of being sold into sex slavery and arranged marriages in China. There was a woman who made a documentary about that. I saw her on CNN on youtube. Another young man I’ve seen before he and his brother escaped and the authorities found out and were monitoring their father. Their father tried to escape but he was caught (he didn’t go with them cause he was ill) and they tortured him and sent him home and he died a few days later. I’ve been studying the DPRK for years. Things aren’t going to change because they’re a military power based society. Everything revolves around the military and will stay that way until they have some sort of economy. Just tweeting and jumping on a fad campaign isn’t going to change the DPRK. People have been working on this stuff for years and we’re still talking about this at the end of 2013. People need to make sure that defectors really are getting this money and not like with Komen who were claiming they were giving money for research for cancer but only gave a tiny portion and the rest went to their org and used for staff and media etc. It’s true that there are some people who have you pay for their help with defecting and you can rack up a huge debt to pay back. South Korea, last time I checked, doesn’t give defectors jobs. They do education and therapy. Unless things have changed since I last looked into this about at least a yr or two ago… I hope it has but I don’t know since I hadn’t looked into it to see.

  25. Simon: “Comment SPAM!!!!”
    Me: “Yes, Sir I already started and will never end till I get permisson to end!”

    Okay, now the (Internet) world isn’t safe against spam attacks. woahahaha!

  26. I am crying so hard. This is not right guys. This is not right. :(

  27. Tweeting like crazy. This is such a wonderful cause! I hope a lot of people will pay attention to this.

  28. Yeah it’s so great that you’re a part of this year’s P4A! Hopefully I can donate some money next year (after doing some further research) since I unfortunately can’t donate right now. But I already tweeted the link and now of to facebook & gplus (ノ≧∀≦)ノ

    DFTBN! (Don’t forget to be nasty) :D

  29. I learned something new today about the black market system, thanks to this video, though I can’t help feeling like the whole black market business may end up endangering people in the process? I haven’t done much research though, so maybe my worries are unfounded. Nevertheless, great video and I’ll definitely spread the word n_n

    • The black market is not new. It’s been around for at least a couple yrs now. I’ve been studying the DPRK for several yrs now. The people there sell everything and anything they can to have food and clothes and other needed items because there is no economy there. Only the elite are taken care of because they work for the party and make up the party. As far as endangering people the govt knows everything that goes on there and since this is not new and you’re still hearing about it apparently not. Oh and the black market has nothing to do with going against the govt. It’s about surviving.

  30. shared on fb, on tumbrl, on tt, even on google+

    now im gonna spam my friends with it kk

  31. omg they’re insanely insane, im sharing it!

  32. you do good works guys ^_^

    off to click some mice <3

  33. I’m gonna share the hell out of this video.

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