Voice of America has already sent some of your messages of support into the country, along with information about the initiative. Here’s a translated transcript of the first broadcast (listen to it in Korean here or read the original transcript):
“Annyeonghaseyo…, Hello, Ni hao…”
“We’re cheering for you from afar. Don’t ever give up. Many people are working for you.”
These are just some of the messages that young people from different countries want to send out to the North Korean people.
These messages are part of a project initiated by LiNK, a North Korean human rights organization based in California in the western part of the United States. It will officially launch on the 27th [editor’s note: the official launch date was the 26th] of this month, and the title of the project is “To the North Korean People.”
This project is a movement where people who are interested in North Korea’s human rights issues can record their own videos of encouraging words for the North Korean people and send them over directly to the North Korean people.
Anybody, anywhere in the world, who owns a smartphone or a camera can participate in this project by recording the video and uploading it onto LiNK’s website.
LiNK has sent emails out to supporters around the world asking them to participate, and so far 60 people have sent their video messages from 12 countries, including China, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and England.
Each video message will be translated into Korean. Most of the participants are in their 20s, but there are a couple older people as well.
LiNK has stated that they have only been receiving messages from their supporters, but when they officially launch the campaign website [editor’s note: campaign is now open to all], anybody can participate. They plan to promote the project via social media and through their tour program to raise awareness of North Korean human rights issues.
LiNK’s VP, Justin Wheeler, explained the background of how the project started during his interview with VOA. He heard from the defectors that the North Korean people are not aware that the outside world cares about the pains and sufferings they endure, so they wanted to encourage and empower the North Korean people by informing them how the outside world cares for them and are very interested in them.
Sokeel Park, LiNK’s Director of Research and Strategy based out of their South Korean office, stated that whereas the primary goal of the project is to send in voices of the outside world to the North Korean people, the secondary goal is to form a sense of solidarity among the people around the world that care and support North Korea’s human rights.
“People who are interested in North Korean issues and support them [the North Korean people] can come together here. Before, it was difficult to connect with each other even with social media. But as we get more recorded videos, people will realize that they are not the only ones who are interested and actually want to do something about this. We are hoping for this synergy effect so this community can grow and be empowered.”
Park said he is hoping that there will be a bridge of communication that overcomes the barriers that separate North Korea from the outside world.
The core of “TO: The North Korean People” is to directly deliver the messages to the North Korean people within North Korea and China. Open Radio for North Korea, a media outlet run by defectors in South Korea, has assumed this task.
LiNK and Open Radio for North Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding, and plan to send in messages regularly to North Korea starting this spring at the latest.
Eun-Kyoung Kwon, Open Radio’s International Director, has told VOA that a similar project had been done in the past in South Korea where they sent over ‘messages of hope’ to North Korea, and since the direction and goal of the organizations were the same, they decided to partner with LiNK for this project.
Kwon said there is a great significance to send in outside voices to the North Korean people, and pointed out the statement made by Michael Kirby, the former chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea, during the commemorative event for the one-year anniversary of the report.
“Mr. Kirby, the former chair, kept emphasizing that the North Korean people themselves need to read the report, and they need to know its content. And we believe that there’s something in common with that in terms of the significance and the aim.”
Kwon also said that it will be meaningful information for the North Korean people to know that ordinary people are watching them and pay attention to them.
Kwon said it’s also noteworthy that it’s the ordinary people who are sending their voices, not experts or broadcasters.
“I feel like when it’s only media personnel, it’s hard to think out of the box. I think this is very significant in that we are sending in messages by ordinary people outside who have vague ideas about North Korea, people who really care, and people who have different information, different ideas and perspectives.”
[TTNKP message] “Hello everyone…I believe there will be liberty in North Korea.”
LiNK’s “TO: The North Korean People” project, where they will send message of concerns and support by people around the world, will continue until North Korea opens up.
[TTNKP message] “Himneseyo! (Take heart!)”
– Yang-Hee Jang, VOA News.