Organizational Profile: Justice for North Korea (JFNK)

Justice for North Korea logoJustice for North Korea (JFNK) is a small, activism-oriented group lead by South Korean pastor, Peter Chung. It has Christian and non-Christian members from both Koreas and a handful of other countries.

At times they have been active in the Seoul portion of the multi-city demonstrations in front of Chinese embassies around the world that are coordinated by the NK Freedom Coalition.

In May 2007, they started a 444-day campaign leading up to the Beijing Olympics in August 2008.  Every weekday there was a “one-person” demonstration in front of the Chinese consulate in Myeongdong.  And every Saturday half a dozen to a dozen people gathered in Insadong for a “street performance,” to pass out fliers, and get the message out about China’s role in exacerbating and perpetuating the North Korean crisis.

I joined the Saturday Insadong campaign in December 2007.  It became the high-point of my week, though I must admit, I sometimes questioned how much of an effect we really were having.  It’s very hard to measure (this a whole ‘nother topic), so I often had to remind myself to take the long-term view.  We were just one small part of a movement, the results of which might not be seen soon, but which needed to be waged nonetheless.

We did get some media coverage mind you.  Perhaps most notably appearing in the National Geographic piece (see third-to-last photo) on the underground railroad in China.  And we appeared briefly as background video accompanying a report on CNN (the video in this link doesn’t appear to work anymore) about the Olympic Torch protests in April 2008.  At least those are two examples from the Western media that come to mind.

Here are some photos from Insadong in early 2008.   Glancing again at these photos, I’m reminded that Tim Peters of Helping Hands Korea and Dr. Norbert Vollertsen were stalwarts of the campaign.

In May of this year we finally restarted our Saturday Insadong campaign.  Now the focus is more directly on North Korea, but we still continue to talk about China’s role, of course.  We also have discovered that if we don’t walk up and down the street, if we don’t chant our slogans, etc., but instead, if we quietly and in one place do our “street performance,” we seem to be more effective reaching people.  They aren’t put off by our chanting.  They have time to stop and read our posters (on topics including orphans, a map of the political prison camps, the modern underground railroad, sexually trafficked women, and China shirking its international agreements on refugees).  And, as ever, they’re very curious as to why that person over there has a hood over his/her head and is all tied up with ropes.  One objective thing I can point to to say we’re more effective now is that donations have more than doubled after the switch.  (Money raised goes to support work on the underground railroad; possibly more on that later.)   As before, we hand out 1000+ Korean fliers most weeks, as well as some in English, Chinese, and now Japanese.

Justice for North Korea Insadong Campaign - August 1, 2009

Justice for North Korea Insadong Campaign - September 5, 2009

Above are a couple photos; another photo and more details about the weekly “street performance” and JFNK in general appear in this nice article in the JoongAng Daily from last month.

For anyone interested in taking part in the Insadong campaign every Saturday 3-5 p.m., there is no proper website for JFNK yet but you can find contact info here.

Also, JFNK is hosting a free screening of Crossing at an art gallery near Hapjeong Station (lines 2 & 6) in Seoul next Saturday night, Oct. 31st, at 8 p.m. (be sure to take a copy of the directions with you when you go!)

The following Saturday, instead of the weekly Insadong campaign, JFNK will be one of several organizations participating in the “Vote With Your Feet” march to support the people of North Korea.  Plan to meet at City Hall Station, exit 2, at 1 p.m. on November 7th.  The march will be to Seoul Station, where there will be speakers — some of whom risked their lives when they voted with their feet and made the perilous journey to South Korea.

Finally, I want to share a video a friend made of our Insadong campaign a few weeks ago.  Alas, our setup that week was a little different than usual due to a festival taking place in our usual spot, and we were short a few hands that day. Also, I think he would want you to know that he managed to make this video using only the simple software included in Windows and an old digital camera serving as his camcorder.  So I can’t wait to see what he can do on other projects after he gets himself a proper camcorder and software in the next several weeks.  I’m having problems embedding the video, but for now, here’s a link to his video.

Update by OFK: Here’s the video:

5 Comments

  1. It is so true that the “re-enactments” are more effective than anything else that has been tried to raise public awareness about the PRC’s unconscionable forced repatriation policy – it should be done at every Chinese embassy throughout the world – thank you JFNK!




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