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Freedom in North Korea

By almost any measure, North Korea is the worst place on earth. More than 24 million people live in the northeast Asian country under the rule of Communist dictator Kim Jong-Un. They are subjected to widespread human rights violations, including executions, torture, and detention, and denied fundamental rights like free expression, association, assembly, and religion.

Core Components

In contributing to a mandate for change, the Bush Institute undertook the first non-partisan effort in the United States involving the government, industry, NGO, academic, and entertainment sectors, as well as the refugee community, in the pursuit of three broad goals:

  • Expose the suffering of the North Korean people
  • Put the gulags and other human rights issues abuses on the radar screen of opinion leaders and the general public
  • Develop policies with the public and private sectors to help the North Korean people


Out of 24 million North Koreans, 1 in every 185 is a political prisoner. The Bush Institute believes the human rights issues need to be on the radar screen of opinion leaders and public.

North Korea Freedom Scholarship Fund

In the last decade, several hundred North Koreans have risked everything to escape and reestablish themselves in the United States.  After conducting two studies of the community and its needs, the Bush Institute has worked with Korean-Americans and others to establish the scholarship fund. 

Administered by Communities Foundation of Texas, these scholarships will support escapees in pursuing a range of educational opportunities, helping them to succeed and to build new lives in freedom.

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“When we asked [North Korean escapees] about their dreams and goals, many spoke of their desire to improve themselves through education. At the Bush Center, we want to help these refugees on their path to success.”
- Mrs. Laura Bush

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“We must continue to do more to improve the human condition in North Korea, especially those of us blessed to live in free societies.”  - President George W. Bush

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