Helping North Korean Refugees is Morally Right and Strategically Smart
North Korea continues to make news for all the wrong reasons. In just the last few days, the country has conducted a missile test in violation of international agreements and apparently assassinated the estranged half-brother of the dictator Kim Jong-Un.
These incidents, which testify to the oppressive nature of the regime, as well widespread depravation and lack of respect for human rights, explain why tens of thousands of North Koreans have risked everything to escape to freedom.
More than 400 North Koreans have come legally to the United States as refugees or immigrants since President George W. Bush signed the North Korea Human Rights Act into law in 2004. Most North Koreans living here have adjusted well and want to contribute to American society. They remind us why helping others escape oppression is not only the right thing to do, it is in our best interest as a society.
Many struggle financially and have limited prospects for careers or professional advancement. For that reason, the Bush Institute established the North Korea Refugee Freedom Scholarship program. It allows individuals who were born in North Korea and now legally live in the United States to apply for scholarships to attend institutions of higher learning.
Through learning a trade or taking up a profession, these escapees can better provide for themselves and their families and contribute to our common prosperity. They also serve as a vital link to those trapped behind in North Korea by sending remittances and uncensored information to friends and family.
North Korea remains a dangerous and repressive country, but we believe that enhancing the prospects of individual North Koreans will hasten the day when all North Koreans are free.
Lindsay Lloyd is the Deputy Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, where he manages original research and programmatic efforts to advance freedom and democracy in the world. Lindsay currently leads the Bush Institute’s Freedom in North Korea project, which raises awareness of human rights violations in North Korea, proposes new policy solutions, and engages leaders to help improve the lives of the North Korean people. Lindsay is also responsible for managing the Freedom Collection, a multimedia archive that documents the stories of nonviolent freedom advocates from around the word.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Lindsay served for 16 years at the International Republican Institute (IRI), most recently as senior advisor for policy. Previously, he was IRI’s regional director for Europe and co-director of the regional program for Central and Eastern Europe, which was based in Slovakia. At IRI, Lindsay worked with candidates, elected officials, political parties, and civil society activists to develop lasting democratic institutions.
Before joining IRI, Lindsay worked for several members and the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives, as political director for a political action committee, and for Jack Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.Full Bio
Helping North Korean Refugees Resettle
Tom Barker is a partner and co-chair of the healthcare practice at the Washington, D.C. offices of Foley Hoag, a Boston-based law firm. He served in a series of high-level health care policy posts during the administration of President George W. Bush, including serving as acting general counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services. While his practice today focuses on the complex issues of health care law, Tom has developed a deep interest in the plight of North Korea. He has focused on helping North Korean refugees resettle in the United States, using his legal expertise to assist North Korean refugees with such matters as their immigration status and health care. We spoke to Tom about how and why he became interested in North Korea and what he’s doing to improve the lives of North Koreans. What inspired you to get involved with North Korean refugees? I’ve been fascinated about North Korea for years, probably going back t
Bush Institute Experts Testify on North Korean Threat
At a February 7 hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, two experts affiliated with the George W. Bush Institute were called to testify as witnesses. Victor Cha, a Fellow in Human Freedom, and Robert L. Gallucci, who served as a consultant to the Bush Institute, testified at a hearing entitled Countering the North Korean Threat: New Steps in U.S. Policy. In his prepared testimony, Dr. Cha noted, “Presidencies are defined not by the agenda they have coming into office. Instead, the mettle of every president is tested by the unexpected crises that come their way, and in particular, how they respond to those challenges. For President George W. Bush, for example, the crisis was of course the terrorist attacks of September 11. For President Trump, the crisis could very well come from North Korea.” Ambassador Gallucci noted that the North Korean situation has changed dramatically in recent years, stating, “North Koreans see only two ways to insur