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Helping North Korean Refugees is Morally Right and Strategically Smart

In just the last few days, North Korea has conducted a missile test in violation of international agreements and apparently assassinated the estranged half-brother of its dictator. These incidents help explain why many North Koreans have risked everything to escape to freedom.

Article by Lindsay Lloyd February 16, 2017 //   2 minute read

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.