On Monday, students and faculty members learned an enormous amount—historically, politically, and empathetically. We were lucky to have a group called LINK (Liberty in North Korea) present during Morning Meeting. A group of high school students presented on their work helping North Korean citizens leave their homes in a 3,000-mile route to start anew in a different political and social environment. Their organization’s main focus points are: resettlement programs, empowerment programs, and—like the presentation on our campus—educational programs that help shift and re frame the narrative that many have about North Korea.
As the LINK website describes, “Mainstream media has defined North Korea as crazy Kims and nuclear weapons, which has created a barrier preventing ordinary people around the world from getting involved. We are changing this narrative: People over politics.” Monday’s presentation resonated that mission—we saw hundreds of photographs of the orphaned children, young adults—starting new educational paths, forging new lives after being forced into sex trafficking or married against their will, adults suffering under unscrupulous employers, and older citizens who had endured incredible trauma in North Korea’s political prison camps.
The LINK presenters were impeccably organized, passionate, engaging, and informed. They left Dublin students with questions that entered into conversations throughout the day—from classrooms to lunch tables to dorms.
“What I hope kids take away is the idea that North Korea is not as closed as our media portrays it, that North Korean people are looking for options, and that even in situations in which the odds seem insurmountable, creative and courageous people can have a positive impact,” remarks Ms. Doenmez, Academic Dean. “I hope this presentations sparks greater curiosity in our school about North Korean society and people and help us seek more nuanced and varied depictions of a people who are often labeled as an enemy.”