We were recently awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for over 1000 hrs of volunteer service as an organization. We thank the hard work of all our members as well as your support which allowed us to have this honorable distinction.
Case by case and child by child our organization rescues defector children, and guides the development of the already rescued children with volunteer educators, mentorship, and donations.
In context to an entire nation of people famine and oppression, our work may easily seem futile. With every child we save, there are always countless others that we cannot reach.
But there is a much grander plan to our efforts, we work with these children:
Because they have the potential to become an entire generation of individuals like them:
Amazing individuals who lead the international movement today for North Korean human rights as activists, political artists, and authors.
The prolonged suffering these children faced on their journeys to seek freedom, at such young ages, did not leave these children’s spirits damaged, but made them stronger. From teaching and mentoring these children, we have seen their extraordinary tenacity in reaching their goals, and an uncommon resiliency to changes in their lives. With guidance, support, and proper education, we know that these children can grow up to become a generation of leaders for the human rights movement, and more.
The ultimate solution to ending North Korean oppression is reunification, and the North Korean defectors also have the binational experience to stand between the North and the South as a living bridge to reconcile the differences between the two sides, and bring the divided nation closer together to catalyze a peaceful process of unification.
We consider each of our efforts as an organization to be an investment in the international movement for both North Korean human rights, and Korean reunification.
With our 3rd Korean Dinner, we hope to continue our pattern of annual growth with more food, guests, and entertainment for all. All of the funds we raise will be used to help our cause of improving the lives of North Korean defector children, and supporting their education with our scholarship program.
We owe our dinner entertainment to the generosity of Eun-Gyung Lee, who will perform solo traditional Korean dances; Hansori, Eastern Michigan University’s Korean Samul Nori percussion group; magician Jee-Il Han; and contemporary dancer Joo-Ri Jung.
Additionally, the Everyone’s Free Organization thanks all of the generous stores and restaurants (below) who have promised donations to make our third annual Korean Dinner at Washtenaw International High School possible.
We also thank Nagomi restaurant and the Soo Park Law Office (not shown above) for their generous donations.
For the Hong Kong Chapter of Everyone’s Free, an awareness-raising campaign was held with the enthusiastic support from the local team members and teachers. The campaign displayed pictures, posters and artworks showing the current situation of North Korean refugees, with the team members acting as narrators to provide more detailed explanations to the schoolmates. Participants also watched a few interesting clips from the recent comedy “The Interview”. In the end the chapter president Charlie Wang gave a speech on how students could contribute to helping the North Korean refugees. The participants all expressed that they have not only gained much more knowledge on North Korean refugees, but also had a great time.
Knowing that the students at Kumkang School greatly enjoy the holiday season as well as that many of these students suffer from malnourishment having come recently from North Korea, we decided to gift a personlized letter as well as a year’s worth of vitamins to every student at Kumkang School for North Korean Children.
These gifts will be brought to the students this summer during our annual winter teaching visit to Kumkang School.
Last year, 9 North Korean refugee children were forcibly repatriated from Laos by the North Korean embassy due to the disturbing, 17 day inaction of the South Korean embassy to retrieve the children from the Laos Police.
The truly grave consequences of the South Korean embassy’s inaction have finally materialized as 2 of the 9 refugee children were executed, while the rest were sent to Camp 14, a horrific North Korean prison camp notorious for egregious human rights abuses where most of its inmates spend their whole lives.
With a 111-19 vote and 55 abstentions, the United Nations passed a resolution urging the Security Council to prosecute North Korea in the International Criminal Court. This was incited by a report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s report on North Korea’s widespread human rights abuses.
Although this was a significant step forward for the international human rights regime, more needs to be done as China and Russia, nations that have voted against the resolution, both have veto power in the Security council and will most likely oppose any efforts to bring North Korea to justice in the ICC. In addition to the actions of China and Russia, North Korea has also opposed the international humanitarian efforts agains them by making tactical concessions such as releasing american prisoners (including Kenneth Bae), threatening further nuclear testing, and discrediting the North Korean defectors who have brought first hand testimony against North Korea. Attacks againts North Korean defector and humanitarian activist Mr. Shin Dong-Hyuk were especially severe: “They put my dad in the media, and broadcasted my life is a complete lie, threatened me and my family, and list is exhaustive” described Mr. Shin Dong-Hyuk.
By opposing bringing North Korea to the ICC despite the clear evidence that establish North Korea’s regime as the worst human rights abuser in the world, China and Russia would be placed in very difficult situations as world superpowers that turn a blind eye towards egregious crimes against humanity. It is the hope of the Everyone’s Free Organizations that China and Russia realize the valuable opportunity to intervene in North Korea that would be missed as well as the greatly detrimental precedents their actions would set for the international community.
We wanted to raise awareness of the unjust treatment the people of North Korea suffer in prison camps to the whole of Washtenaw International High School. Thanks to the generosity of the South Korean Consulate General in Chicago, we were able to hold an exhibition of their gallery set detailing conditions in the prison camps after school. We hope that this exhibition will inspire both students and teachers alike to stand action against the conditions of the North Korean prison camps.
With the creation of an Everyone’s Free chapter in St. Paul’s Coed College in Hong Kong, the Everyone’s Free Organization is now officially an international NGO!
To kick off the year, we held our second annual Movie Night to Save A Life at Washtenaw International High School. We continued our tradition of pampering our guests by serving a wide variety of complementary foods and drinks including ramen, pizza, sushi (freshly made by our members), soda, and bubble tea (also made by our members).
This year’s film choice was Welcome to Dongmakgol, a culture rich comedy set during the Korean War where North and South Korea soldiers are forced to live amongst each other in a secluded village where people know nothing about the war.
We also added an element of worldly education for our event by holding an exhibition that raises awareness of North Korea prison camps and their brutal conditions, courtesy of the Consulate General of South Korea in Chicago.
We are excited to announce the creation of an Everyone’s Free Chapter in Greenhills School located in Ann Arbor, Michigan!
Here at the Washtenaw International High School chapter of Everyone’s Free, we are looking forward to another year of creativity, bonding, and working hard to make a difference for North Korean refugees together.
Indeed we have heard that youth are our future; however, often times adults and political disagreements make it impossible for young people to have a future at all. The youth of North and South Korea deserve a future. It is difficult to take political stances when much of the information that people in the Western Hemisphere received is very much skewed in one direction. It is easy to demonize that which we do not understand or that which we “choose” to make as our enemy. Children are no-one’s enemy. I hope that both Koreans and people from all over the world engage in the complex work of building one Korea. A people should not be divided. That work may appear “impossible” but one must dream beyond the societal barriers placed in front of us. I challenge this young man, John Park, to do the most difficult of work; to see beyond hate, beyond political battle lines and to seek for a united Korea. The forces of power, greed and imperialism are mighty strong, but the will of the people, organized, can move mountains. May mountains get moved.
– Cesar A. Cruz
Assistant Dean, Harvard Summer School, Summer 2014
Not just his words, but his actions are truly inspirational to our organization. As the founder of the Homies Empowerment Program and an educational activist, Mr. Cruz is a visionary and a leader that exemplifies how “people, organized, can move mountains”. He has worked for over twenty years in educational activism by tackling educational inequality, the rise of high school dropout rates, and gang violence in California. Please support his cause and like the Homies Empowerment Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Homies-Empowerment-ProgramAdelante/391011680935287?fref=photo and donate to his organization by purchasing Homies Empowerment apparel at http://www.cafepress.com/teolol.
Welcome, potential new members and students of Washtenaw International High School! I hope that you have been able to find yourself amongst these photos and continue to remain interested in attending meetings, which will be held on tuesdays (more information will be distributed via email). Every year, our chapter at this school outdoes itself, and this year is your own opportunity to be a part of a growing student movement founded in your school by doing hands on work that will help change the lives of many North Korean refugees.
Sincerely, President and Founder of the Everyone’s Free Organization