North Korea is Korea's most threatening enemy. However, North Koreans are our family sharing some of the same scars and memories. There is a club for Human Rights in North Korea endeavoring to inform people of this fact. Their name is HANA, Humanitarian Action for North Korea. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Yoo Sohee (representative of HANA), who believes a little interest makes a little change, and this little change makes big change.
SMT Although we can know the characteristics of HANA easily from the name, it’s hard to guess about the exact activities of HANA. Please explain about your activities.
HANA We do various activities. First, internally we have regular meetings every week. There, we study and give a briefing on books and articles related to North Korea and discuss it. Also, every semester we invite North Korean defectors to have a meeting and hold photo exhibitions on campus to inspire interest. To inform about the gravity of the food situation in North Korea, we have a rice ball event, to experience a North Korean meal. Outwardly, we participate in a mock assembly for making the North Korean Human Rights Act into law and in academy for university student North Korea expert. Finally we go on a security field trip to both grow a healthy appreciation for national security and to bond as a group. We went to Baekgyeoungdo and Cheorwon in 2010.
SMT These days, most university students have a negative or indifferent attitude about North Korea and reunification. What do you think is the reason, and what is your effort to improve this situation?
HANA When I think about that problem it’s because many students don’t know well about North Korea and they can’t feel the necessity of reunification in their lives. Most prejudices come from such ignorance. Sometimes this wrong thought and attitude makes us have a hard time in club activity. When people hear about human rights in North Korea, they gaze strangely at us. However, when we see a question of human rights we should separate the North Korean regime and its residents. It’s because infringement upon personal rights in North basically happens as a result of the North Korean regime. Therefore, our final aim and direction of effort is to inspire university
students to develp interest in North Korea.
SMT We heard HANA held a photo exhibition about human rights earlier this year. Please tell me about this activity and what you gained from it.
HANA It was from March 22 to April 3 under the title of “The Spring doesn’t come in North Korea.” At first we hesitated about opening a photo exhibition because of political prejudice. However, after seeing the photo exhibition about Northern prison camps held by SAGE, Handong University’s club for human rights in North Korea, we decided to hold our exhibition. As we were planning it, we chose five representative subjects (starvation, greed, prison camp, escape, and brutality) to show
the human rights situation in North Korea generally. In reality, after seeing it one observer said, “It looks like human rights is nowhere in North Korea. Many people should know about the reality of North Korea through exhibitions like this,” and encouraged us. Through this activity we could know more about North Korea and could experience more meaning through our club meeting many people and sharing various thoughts.