Tuesday, June 17, 2008

LiNK hosted a nationwide speaking tour from May 1-15, 2008 for North Korean defector Shin Dong-Hyuk who was born into slavery and raised as a political prisoner in a North Korean concentration camp.

Beginning with a press conference on Capitol Hill - hosted by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Diane Watson (D-CA) – and a briefing with Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), Mr. Shin shared his story and perspectives on North Korea and the world that was hidden from him until recently, and urged the world to stop the grave injustices in the North.

The following day, LiNK, the Sejong Society of Washington, DC, Asian American Pacific Film, Inc. and the National Association of Asian American Professionals co-sponsored a mixer and happy hour fundraiser at IndeBleu.

Ending the Washington, DC, portion of the tour was a roundtable discussion at St. Albans School, a private college preparatory school for boys, where the school’s headmaster joined in on the talk (5/5).

The tour stopped by New York City in its second week, where Mr. Shin visited the Permanent Missions of the DPRK, Germany and the United Kingdom to the UN. Officials of the DPRK Mission refused to meet with Mr. Shin, while the German and British Missions welcomed him with meaningful discussions.

LiNK also hosted an awareness event at The King’s College (5/6), a “Brown-Bag Lunch Discussion” at the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights (5/7), a press conference at New York State Assembly-member Ellen Young’s office (5/8), and a private pre-screening of Director Kim Tae-Kyun's Crossing at The ImaginAsian Theater (5/8). The screening was attended by over 200 guests – including activists, defectors, media and representatives of the New York State Governor and Assemblymen – and the audience was visibly moved, evidenced by the many who pledged to increase their involvement in and support for this cause.

The third leg of the tour was in Chicago, where awareness events were also held at Northwestern University Law School (5/9) and Foster Bank (5/10).

The following week, Mr. Shin shared his testimony and pointed out the location of his former home and camp parameters and facilities on Google Earth in a "Google Tech Talk" with LiNK Executive Director Adrian Hong at the Googleplex headquarters near San Francisco (5/12). Google had previously hosted Mr. Hong for a talk in June 2007.

A second awareness event was also held at UC-Berkeley (5/12), and a fundraiser the next day at a local supporter’s home (5/13).

The tour came to a close in Los Angeles, with awareness events at UCLA (5/14) and UC-Irvine (5/15) and a mixer and happy hour at M Grill Restaurant (5/14).

Throughout the tour, LiNK's Directors, who accompanied Mr. Shin, also shared new developments and information about the crisis, refugee situation and LiNK's resettlement activities, and how the public can get involved.

A huge thank you to all of LiNK's staff, volunteers and supporters who helped welcome Mr. Shin to the US and contributed in putting together a successful tour!

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