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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

LINKing Centennial to North Korean Refugees

Words: Kelly Simmons

When people talk about North Korea, they talk about its recent emergence into popular culture with controversial movies like The Interview. Movies like The Interview mock North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un. Seldom do these movies address the atrocities Kim Jong Un has committed against his own people. We judge this country based on one man. One man who has induced one of the largest famines upon his own citizens, one man who imprisons his own people in holocaust-esque encampments. Our society allows us to mock North Korea, but we refuse to focus upon the 25 million who are struggling to survive.

Various countries have offered food aid to North Korea with the hopes that it will help curb the famine. According to the Congressional Research Service, between 1995 and 2008 the United States had given 1.3 billion dollars in food aid. Of that food aid, much of it was given to the elitists of North Korea and it did not reach those who were in need of it most. Additionally, in 2011 the European Union provided 14.5 million dollars in aid. Although providing direct aid to North Korea has proven to be troublesome, there are still ways to help the people of North Korea.

Liberty in North Korea (LINK), a nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping refugees of North Korea. They provide school supplies for refugee students, scholarships to study in the United States, and refugee rescue teams that will help North Korean refugees resettle in safe environments. The biggest way LINK raises money for their charity is through rescue teams. These rescue teams are created in local communities and schools. The rescue teams holds fundraisers within their communities and then donate the money raised to the LINK organization.

When Sophomore Duo Hong saw a rescue team speak to him at his church he got the idea to research them himself. “I researched them and they had a program on how to start a rescue team at school.”

Thus, a new rescue team located at Centennial High School was created. Through different fundraisers the newly created rescue team plans to not only raise money, but also to bring awareness about LINK as well. When asked on the goal of LINK, club member Amaal Yazadi replied, “[The goal is] to spread awareness of LINK and [to give] all the proceeds to LINK.”

One fundraiser that was held on March 20 was a booth at Centennial’s World Fest. The booth raised money by selling fried Oreos, which Centennial students flocked to.

As of now, “[we] want to use creative fundraisers…[we] are bouncing around ideas, I’ve heard [about] some art shows and auctions” Hong said. These are just some things that LINK plans to do to raise money, but they are also actively trying to make the community aware of what is happening.

“We’re trying to get actual people from LINK to talk about their organization,” Hong added. The club is also trying to get a soldier who served at the DMZ, a strip of land that serves as a barrier between North and South Korea.

The LINK team at Centennial is dedicated to helping the refugees of North Korea. Hong acknowledged that “ultimately, the goal is to liberate North Korea and give rights to their people.” So far the club has around 30 members and counting. Anyone is open to come to the meetings, they are held on Thursdays.

Although the liberation of North Korea cannot be determined, clubs and charities like LINK help jumpstart the liberation process.

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