|2017 End of the Year Party of NKHR|
The end-of-the-year party of the Citizens Alliance(NKHR), which concluded the year 2017, was held at LW Convention, 3rd Floor, Brownstone, Seoul. We had not been able to host such parties over the past few years because of other overlapping events. This year, however, we thought it would be too unfortunate to conclude yet another year without either a concert or a party where we can meet with people who love NKHR, so we decided to hold our New Year’s Eve Party on December 1st. On the day of the year-end party, we were even blessed with snow which warmed all our hearts.
Those who donated significant amounts of money to save the lives of North Korean refugees, those who gave scholarships to North Korean refugees, those who have found freedom with our help, those who helped silently in rescuing North Korean refugees, those who assist in the settlement of North Korean refugees, the North Korean youths, interns and volunteers participating in various programs of the Citizens' Coalition, advisors who lead us with passion, directors, and patrons who supported us in silence, all gathered for this year's party.
Everyone is a part of the Citizens' Coalition family, and I am grateful to everyone who attended the party. When a North Korean woman who was rescued this year expressed her gratitude for her rescue, everyone welcomed her with a great applause, wishing her happiness in her newly found freedom and life in South Korea.
Chairman Park said in his Welcoming Speech that the active support of our sponsors was what made it possible to rescue 79 North Korean refugees, and further added that with the current state of affairs in mind, it seems that the North Korean human rights issues will not be resolved any time soon, thus stressed that our activities must be continued until North Korea is fundamentally changed.
Frankly, if you ask me how the year went on, I will say that I suffered, first personally with health issues, but also because we had to forgo some events such as the Beautiful Dream Concert due to a decrease in donations.
However, the North Korean youths are maturing a great deal and are informing the world through their writings about the unimaginable things they had experienced.
I was also particularly grateful for being able to rescue 79 North Korean refugees wandering in China. Furthermore, Lee Sung-Joo, who is actively engaged as a consultant in the North Korean refugee rescue project, assisted in TV rescue teams and won more than 40 million won of contribution
After learning about the North Korean refugees’ suffering through television, one person even visited our office early in the morning to donate 4 million won. Moreover, there was another time when middle school students who learned about the hardships of North Korean refugees through NKHR’s Talk Talk Concert donated their prize money from the Reunification Contest to NKHR. It was a touching moment.
The contributions made by those who had not even revealed their identities made miracles and saved 79 lives with miracles.
No words can possibly express my sincerest gratitude. Thank you!!!! Even today, four people are risking their lives and heading south to find freedom. I pray for their safe arrival.
Next, we delivered scholarship certificates to 12 North Korean college students and 2 high school students to aid them in adjusting well to our society. The end-of-the-year party became even more cheerful thanks to the performance of the Sohaegum musician Park Sung-Jin, well beloved by our brothers of the North, with an accordion musician. And as they sang together ‘the one who lives on in our heart’, a well-known song in North Korea, everyone became silent to savor every word of the lyrics.
To give you a taste of the wonderful lyrics,
“How many reunions and farewells we have, in the path of life,
although we part, although we part, you who live on in my heart,
ah, I will never forget.”
With these words, we felt certain that we are all people who will live on in each other’s heart.
Park Sung-Jin then sang ‘Chilgapsan’ as an encore and received a big round of applause. This song was meaningful because he sang this South Korean song when he was asked to sing in North Korea and got applauded on the spot, but ultimately he had to escape from the North as the high-ranking North Korean officers there were trying to arrest him behind his back because he sang a South Korean song.
The most important thing in life, it is surely eating! We had a great dinner and shared greetings with people we had not seen in a long time, and chatted about how we had been.
Next came our last event, the prizes!! Although it was not a big prize, there was a person who ran out to receive the gift, and there was even a person who gifted the prize back to the woman we rescued. The New Year’s Eve Party closed with everyone being happy, including those who received prizes and those who did not, and we took pictures to commemorate the event, being sorry to say goodbye to each other.
I sincerely hope that in 2018 also, as we have done so far, we will be able to think about our North Korean brothers who are in difficult conditions and to share even the smallest bit of our love and happiness. The news coming from North Korea are becoming grimmer day by day, but as the saying goes, every flow has its ebb, and I dare imagine that this pitch-darkness only means that daybreak is near us. I dearly hope to be able to give a year-end party with our brothers from the North as soon as possible, and until that day comes, may happiness and good times be with you in this year-end and New Year.
December 5, 2017
Youngja Kim, Director General of NKHR