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EPSJ spotlights North Korea

by Sarah Tedesco / Beacon Staff • November 8, 2012

Arts_children
The documentary traces the history of North Korea.
Beacon Staff
The documentary traces the history of North Korea.
Beacon Staff

“Shift is happening in North Korea” was a consistently repeated phrase in the Multipurpose Room Tuesday night.

Emerson Peace and Social Justice (EPSJ) brought the non-profit organization Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) to campus for the fifth time to inform the student body about the nation’s oppressive government through film. 

“One of the main reasons I bring them back is to have a consistent force and effort in regards to raising awareness about the crisis in North Korea back on Emerson’s campus every semester,” said Dylan Manderlink, EPSJ president.  

The grassroots activists who presented the screening call themselves nomads.  They led the screening by stating their intentions of helping the North Korean people and answered questions from the audience.

The documentary gives a brief overview of North Korean history, but focuses on the story of five refugees on their way to freedom.  It begins in 668 AD with the establishment of the Korean peninsula by the Silla Dynasty, and ends with recent news of North Korean prison camps. 

The film also describes the complex division of North and South Korea. 

According to the organization’s website, LiNK aids rescued refugees by “steadily garnering information about the escape routes from China to Southeast Asia and establishing relationships in the ‘modern day underground railroad’ that can help us move refugees across borders safely.” 

Subsequently, the organization educates and prepares the refugees on the resettlement process in South Korea and the United States. After, LiNK serves as a support system for the refugees, providing guidance and encouragement on how to function with culture shock and living in a new world.

Toward the end of the film, the five refuges make their journey across China and in to South Asia where LiNK owns a shelter.  Here, each refugee had the opportunity to pick where they will be relocated and how they will start their new lives in freedom.  For most, South Korea was the easiest option, but a select few moved to America and are now successfully holding a job. 

One opportunity that both the nomads and Dylan Manderlink pointed out was LiNK’s internship program.  Manderlink, a  junior, took part in the program last summer at LiNK’s headquarters in Torrance, Calif.  She focused on tour relations. The internship objections consist of planning and executing documentary screenings across the North America, she said.

“I think having an internship in the nonprofit spectrum is a really good learning experience because it’s not like corporate America or any mainstream company in the United States — it is very different,” Manderlink said.

Since LiNK’s creation in 2004 by a group of Yale University students, 122 refugees have been saved from persecution and relocated to countries without totalitarian regimes according to the group’s website. The organization works exclusively planning and executing detailed rescue plans to make sure the refugees are as safe as possible. According to the two nomads who attended the screening, just an additional five refugees were rescued last week.  

“I think it’s really important for college students to hear about how strong the North Korean people are,” said Manderlink.