Lindsay Lloyd North Korea Freedom Scholarship 2023: An inside look

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Learn more about Joseph Kim.
Joseph Kim
Joseph Kim
Program Manager, Global Policy and Expert-in-Residence
George W. Bush Institute

Joseph Kim, Associate and Expert-in-Residence at the Bush Institute, discusses the 2023 Lindsay Lloyd North Korea Freedom Scholarship and what’s new to the program this year.

North Korea is one of the most closed and oppressive societies in the world. Those who manage to escape the authoritarian regime and survive the dangerous and difficult journey to the United States face a wide range of challenges once they arrive.  

The George W. Bush Institute established the North Korea Freedom Scholarship, now the Lindsay Lloyd North Korea Freedom Scholarship, in 2017 to help North Korean escapees and their children permanently living in the United States realize and maximize their potential through higher education.  As a North Korean escapee and one of the first recipients of the scholarship, I deeply admire the bravery and resilience of our past scholarship recipients, their desire to succeed in America, and their profound generosity toward others. 

This scholarship would not have been established without the work and dedication of Lindsay Lloyd, who was the principal architect of the program. Lloyd, who served as Senior Advisor of Freedom and Democracy at the Bush Institute and previously served as the Bush Institute’s Director of the Human Freedom Initiative, died Aug. 1, 2022 in Dallas. The scholarship has been renamed in his honor.     

Lindsay was a true believer in advancing freedom and supporting those who escaped authoritarian rule. I’m honored that we are carrying his legacy forward by naming the scholarship after him. 

Thanks to the North Korea Human Rights Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2004, North Korean escapees have a pathway to a new life in America. But once here, North Koreans resettled in the U.S. often have difficulties living up to their full potential, in part because of a lack of access to education. Many forgo opportunities to continue their education because of a lack of financial stability.   

Since the program’s inception, $229,500 has been awarded to recipients in the form of 60 scholarships to vocational school, community college, university, and graduate-level programs. Previous recipients attend renowned institutions, including Columbia University, the University of Southern California, George Washington University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

To meet eligibility requirements, applicants must be born in North Korea or the child of someone born in North Korea; and they must either permanently reside in the United States as a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or refugee, or be a North Korean escapee with South Korean citizenship pursuing a degree in the United States.  

President George W. Bush has said that the Lindsay Lloyd North Korea Freedom Scholarship “is one of my favorite programs at the Bush Center.”  

“The idea of welcoming people who have escaped tyranny is something very important to us… and should be important to the American people. And one way we can help is to take ambitious, smart young people and allow them to broaden their horizons,” President Bush said. 

Applications for the 2023 scholarship cycle opened on March 6 and will close April 15, 2023. Interested candidates can apply here. 

As one of the first recipients of the North Korea Freedom Scholarship, I remain very grateful to President Bush and the Bush Institute. I take my part in managing the program seriously because it’s an opportunity to support fellow North Koreans and a privilege to be part of their success stories. I’m continually thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Bush Institute’s Freedom and Democracy work, which has life-changing impact on North Korean refugees and people around the world.   

A portion of this article was previously published in a 2021 blog titled North Korea Freedom Scholarship 2021: An Inside Look.