Press Release

The Bush Institute Announces Recipients of the 2022 North Korea Freedom Scholarship

$60,000 in funds awarded to 12 North Korean escapees to pursue higher education

Today, the George W. Bush Institute announced the 12 recipients of the 2022 North Korea Freedom Scholarship. Established in 2017, the Scholarship is designed to help North Korean escapees and their children pursue higher education and build productive, prosperous lives.


Administered by Communities Foundation of Texas, the scholarships, which together total $60,000, will be used for community college and university students who aspire to lead a variety of careers in fields ranging from science and sociology to education, political science, and more. According to the Refugee Processing Center, only 224 North Korean escapees have been admitted to the United States between 2006 and June 2022. To date, the Bush Institute has awarded a total of $229,500 in 60 scholarships, supporting a total of 30 refugees.


2022 North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipients include:


    • Caleb Cho, who is studying economics at George Mason University.


    • Danny Lee, who is studying political science at Los Angeles City College.


    • Debby Kim, who is studying pre-medicine at Elmhurst College.


    • Grace Noh, who is studying education and communications at George Mason University.


    • H.Y.K., who is studying sociology at the University of Southern California.


    • L.K., who is studying computer science at University of Illinois.


    • M.R.J., who is studying pre-psychology at University of California, Los Angeles.


    • M.S.J., who is studying political science, economics at University of California, Los Angeles.


    • Min Gyeong Choe, who is studying couple and family therapy at Adler University.


    • Seo Hyun Lee, who is studying international affairs at Columbia University.


    • S.L., who is studying sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara.


    • Y.J.K., who is studying sociology at Chatham University.



Some North Korean refugees prefer not to reveal their backgrounds publicly to protect loved ones still living in North Korea.


The scholarship is part of the Bush Institute’s Freedom in North Korea program, which aims to expose the suffering of the North Korean people and put their stories on the radar of policy makers and opinion leaders. The work has included call-to-action papers to define a new path forward in improving the human condition in North Korea, as well as original research and opinion polling of North Korean refugees who have resettled in America.


“I’m deeply moved by the grit and determination displayed by our Scholarship recipients,” said David J. Kramer, the Bradford M. Freeman Managing Director of Global Policy at the George W. Bush Institute, “They are eager to make a difference in the world, and it’s an honor to support them on their paths to success.”


Twelve students applied for grants this year and all 12 were awarded scholarships ranging between $2,000 to $8,000 per person, based on both merit and need. The North Korea Freedom Scholarship Committee reviewed the applications and recommended awards. The Selection Committee members included:


    • Anne Wicks, Ann Kimball Johnson Director of Education and Opportunity at the George W. Bush Institute


    • Jieun Baek, Fellow, Korea Project/Applied History Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center


    • Jensen Ko, Managing Partner of AriseN Partners LP


    • Kenyatta Lovett, Managing Director of Higher Education at Educated Texas


    • Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin


    • Thomas Kim, Chief Financial Officer, Smoothie King



Next year’s scholarship application period will open in January 2023.


For more information about the scholarship and the Bush Institute’s efforts to support escapees and improve the human condition in North Korea, please visit our website. For more information about Communities Foundation of Texas, please visit






About the George W. Bush Institute:


The George W. Bush Institute is a solution-oriented nonpartisan policy organization focused on ensuring opportunity for all, strengthening democracy, and advancing free societies. Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Bush Institute is rooted in compassionate conservative values and committed to creating positive, meaningful, and lasting change at home and abroad. We utilize our unique platform and convening power to advance solutions to national and global issues of the day by influencing policy, not politics. Learn more at