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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 Bradford M. Freeman 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. This includes the work of the 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; the Freedom and Democracy project, which seeks to support U.S. leadership in the world and reenergize our democracy at home; and the Liberty and Leadership Program, which works to equip emerging young leaders in Burma with the skills and knowledge they need to help guide their country’s democratic transition. Lindsay also oversees the Institute’s North Korea Freedom Scholarship, which provides financial and other support for North Korean refugees and their children to pursue higher education.
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
Don’t Forget Human Rights When Dealing with North Korea
There has been a regrettable trend in U.S. foreign policy over the years to focus on the immediate security threat, at the expense of Pyongyang’s horrible treatment of its own people.
Growing Up As A North Korean Defector
Despite moving many times for safety and protection, North Korean defector Susie Seo made her education a top priority. She is now attending college in the U.S. and is hoping to work in cyber security when she graduates.
The Road to Freedom
Justin Seo, his father, father's friend, and his daughter walked through the Paektu Mountain to find freedom. It's an area not frequently traveled due to wild animals.