Each year, North Koreans make the choice to leave North Korea and make better lives for themselves. It is the biggest choice they will ever make as it is illegal to leave the country without permission, but that’s only the beginning
If they can avoid detection at the Chinese border, North Koreans have to avoid sex traffickers, the Chinese authorities, North Korean agents and Chinese citizens who might report on them to make it to safety in a 3rd country after crossing thousands of miles.
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.
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.
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 tailored support, North Koreans escape oppression only to find they still have very limited choices and cannot prosper or make the most of their newfound freedom.
In 2018, Connect: North Korea launched support services to help assist North Korean escapees to transform their lives.
Transforming the lives and prospects of North Korean escapees is key to North Koreans being able to access and make use of their new freedoms. Those prospects create avenues to career, financial security, and well-being for North Korean escapees, and to access something they have never had – the freedom to choose. Our aim is to elevate North Koreans not just out of poverty, but to 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 deserves, and they feel all the more important for people who have experienced such oppression.
Through targeted and holistic support programmes, we support North Koreans to learn new skills and develop their skill sets to enable them to navigate their new world and build new lives.