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Letters to the Editor: MUMS student urges aid for North Korean refugees

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Posted on July 3, 2017 |
By Camille Cutter



Editor’s note: As part of their study of communism, 8th-graders at Middlebury Union Middle School wrote letters to the editor about life in North Korea and what Americans can do. Here is one of those letters; we expect to run a few more next week.

You are a 20-year-old, working every day in the rice fields. After work you wait in line for hours just to get your small portion of rations. Propaganda about the Great Leader spews out from speakers in the metro station and surrounds you through posters. Your stomach is rumbling but you cannot speak out and ask for more food. For an American, this is unfathomable, but for a North Korean, this is a normal day. Many people want to escape from communism and go to South Korea in order to gain more freedoms. Life for North Korean refugees is miserable, but we can help.

North Korea displays a frightening amount of power over its citizens, but the people of North Korea are brainwashed and do not notice. Propaganda is constantly fed to the citizens through posters, speakers, movies, advertisements, teachers, and the dictator. Everywhere they look some piece of propaganda is being tossed at them. It is all part of the communist plan to stifle all freedoms and rights and keep all citizens worshiping communism.

From the time children are enrolled in school, they are taught to praise communism and the Great Leader. In school, children learn that North Korea is the best, strongest, most independent and successful country in the world and that Americans are evil. They learn to support Kim Jong-Un and his threats to send missiles to the United States. The citizens are so brainwashed that they believe their dictator and everything he tells them.

The North Korean Kim regime also keeps all freedoms from the people. This includes all the rights guaranteed to United States citizens by the First Amendment, such as the freedoms of speech, religion, protest, assembly and press. No one is allowed to speak out about any opinions or thoughts they have, not even in private, for fear of the secret police. The secret police watch every move you make. They are paid to find people doing unlawful things or thinking anti-communist thoughts.

Anyone who appears as anti-communist will be sent to a prison camp, jail, or depending on the severity, could even be executed. This power oppresses the people and keeps them from doing anything against the government. When people realize the severity of their condition, they want to find a way out, but there are many risks of trying to escape.

Defectors from North Korea are willing to risk so much just for the idea of freedom. If a defector is caught trying to cross the Yalu or Tumen River into China, they could be taken back to North Korea and put into a prison camp, jail, tortured or killed. North Korean military is stationed on these rivers that border China, along with security camera to catch anyone attempting to cross. Even if people succeed in crossing into China, they could still be sent back to North Korea because China is one of their only allies.

As shown in “A Tale of Two Heavens: Escaping North Korea,” a woman was found frozen in the Tumen River after being shot down by the North Korean military. No one even bothered to bury her or take her back to her family, they just left her to freeze. This is an example of the risk a North Korean takes to escape. Not only could you die while trying to escape, so could your family.

“In North Korea, if your relative is persecuted for ‘anti-state’ or ‘anti-socialist’ crimes, then you and three generations of your family can be punished for it. The aim is to remove from society the whole family unit to prevent any dissent from emerging in the future.” (Liberty in North Korea) By attempting to escape you risk your life, and the lives of your loved ones.

The twisted North Korean society believes that if one person in the family is anti-communist, the whole family must be. They want to maintain control, and therefore cannot have anyone who does not agree.

Although North Korea is very isolated, there are still ways you can help. Donations to North Korean refugee organizations can benefit many defectors who are living underground in China. Liberty in North Korea has raised $232,000 and have helped 618 defectors. This organization is particularly special because all profits go towards the refugees.

Durihana Inc. is another organization that helps North Koreans. The founder of the company, Rev. Chun Ki-Won, started an orphanage in China for North Korean children who have escaped. These children are fed and educated through donations.

Another way to help is to raise awareness about the North Korean government and living conditions through writing, talking, and educating. If more people know, more change will be possible.

Life for North Koreans is miserable, so they want to get out. You can aid those who have left. Helping these innocent people escape helps you too, by assisting to stop nuclear bombs. The less people in North Korea, the less support the dictator has. If we can stop the brainwashing that occurs, there will be much less support for nuclear missiles. Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? This is how you can save the world.

Camille Cutter

MUMS Grade 8

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