Human Rights Crisis

Headlines across the world focus on nuclear proliferation in North Korea, yet hundreds of thousands of North Koreans are currently detained in penal facilities, thousands are being exploited in forced labour conditions, and millions in the country have their rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, association, movement, and opinion violated.

The Human Rights Crisis

In response to the human rights crisis, 35,000 North Koreans have left the country to secure food, liberty, and happiness in different countries around the world. Our work empowers them to build new lives and make the most of their new-found freedoms.

“I knew I had to survive on my own. So I would eat anything, and I ate lizards, snakes, rats, whether it was reptiles, whatever.… in the springtime, I would eat grass, but if you eat the wrong grass, then you would get poisoned and you would get all the swelling and bloated.” p. 253

“You are brainwashed from the time you know how to talk, about 4 years of age, from nursery school, brainwashing through education, this happens everywhere in life, society, even at home … North Korea is not open to the outside world, is a fenced world. So nothing should come through that fence. Even listening to the radio, this is restricted to certain channels. They want the people to be blind, deaf to the outside world, so that the people won’t know what is happening.” p. 54.

All quotes come from the report produced by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

This urgent, yet under-reported human rights crisis is harming 25 million North Koreans right now.

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Life After Escaping North Korea

If they can avoid detection at the Chinese border, North Korean escapees have to avoid sex traffickers, the Chinese authorities, North Korean agents, and Chinese citizens who might report on them before they make it to safety in a third country.

  • Over 35,000 North Korean escapees have found freedom and have started building new lives.
  • The majority have settled in South Korea, but there are North Korean escapees all over the globe, including in the UK, the USA, 

Escaping North Korea is only the first of many hurdles North Koreans face to building the lives they deserve. From language barriers to using ATMs to qualifications, there are many barriers to overcome for North Koreans to integrate and improve their circumstances.

Despite North Korean escapees leaving the country for over 25 years, there is still lots to be done to support their integration

The combination of these challenges is often too much for North Korean escapees to overcome on their own, so they often find themselves with limited options, trapped in poor employment with low wages, and unable to build the new lives they’ve dreamed of. 

Without support, North Koreans escape oppression only to find they are unable to make use of their new-found freedoms.

In 2018, Connect: North Korea launched support services in New Malden, UK to help assist North Korean escapees to transform their lives wherever they are in the world.

Connect North Korea empowers North Korean escapees through:
– Health and wellbeing services
– Mental health services
– English language support
– Education support
– Scholarship programmes

Transforming the lives and prospects of North Korean escapees means creating pathways to careers, financial security, and improving their well-being. They will then have access to something they have never had before – the freedom to choose. 

We not only aim to elevate North Koreans out of poverty, but also enable them to have the choice to take a certain job, the choice to travel, the choice to make a new friend. These are choices everyone has the right to choose, and they feel all the more important for people who have experienced such oppression.

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