Balloons, Socks, Creativity and Aid to North Korea
Lee Juseong, spent most of his life living in North Korea under some of the harshest conditions of any country in the world. One day, he was walking through the woods when he came upon a flier from South Korea that made him realize for the first time how isolated and poor his country was.
It was because of that flier that he eventually attempted to escape North Korea. This is such a dangerous undertaking many people commit suicide knowing that if they are caught they would be tortured and executed. While he, his wife and children, mother and sister would eventually make it out of North Korea, his brother was caught and committed suicide with a fatal dose of Opium. In addition his wife’s father was arrested in retaliation and tortured until he died of a heart attack.
Eventually, after travelling through China, Myanmar and Thailand, the Lee family made it to Seoul and began to create a new life. But so great was the cost of their freedom, Mr. Lee felt he had traded one prison for another. Despite the freedom and prosperity of their new home, Mr. Lee felt despair. It was several years later that Mr. Lee became the first North Korean refugee to participate in the Landmark Forum and awakened a desire to find a way to contribute to the people he left behind. When asked what he got out of The Landmark Forum simply responds “A reason to live.”
In the summer of 2011 Korean American Peter Kang was living in Seoul South Korea and met Mr. Lee and other people from the small but vibrant community of Landmark graduates living there. Together the explored ideas for making a difference and created a novel project to send a new kind of aid to North Korea; socks. In the winter in North Korea, warms socks can be just as important as food to people’s wellbeing and survival. Also rather than send political messages attacking the regime, they wanted to send a simple human message.
Attached to each pair of socks is a message that reads:
“Brothers and sisters: We haven’t forgotten about your suffering. Until unification, please stay alive. People around the world love you.”
This simple idea has inspired thousands of people in Asia, North America, Europe and Africa and caught the attention of global media. This has led to the creation of North Korea Peace, an organization dedicated to bringing humanitarian aid and contact to the people of North Korea independent of politics. To date more than 10,000 pairs of socks have been sent to North Korea in this novel way.
You can learn more about their organization and how to participate by visiting their website: www.northkoreapeace.org