NKHR’s Awareness Program expands understanding of the situation inside North Korea, the dangerous journey for North Koreans refugees, and the challenges faced by North Korean resettling in South Korea. We visit universities, high schools, military bases, corporations, and religious groups across South Korea to conduct educational sessions with firsthand testimonies by North Koreans and discussions of current North Korean human rights issues. Each session is tailored to the audience and varies depending on the specialization and requests of the group. We offer similar programs for students from foreign universities, government officials, or diplomats visiting South Korea. NKHR’s Awareness Program is offered in both English and Korean. Our Awareness Program also engages middle and high school students across South Korea through essay contests and fine art competitions. The topics are related to North Korean human rights and have previously included children’s rights and North Korean refugees. NKHR also hosts “Talk Concerts” for South Korean students. These Talk Concerts are informal discussions in the format of a television talk show and feature North Korean resettlers as guest speakers. If you are interested in hosting an education session on North Korean human rights with NKHR, please email email@example.com
|Resettling in South Korea – NKHR's Tong Tong Concert|
Resettling in South Korea – NKHR's Tong Tong Concert
Seung-ho Lim, NKHR Education Team Program Officer
On September 18, NKHR held a Tong Tong Concert for high school students at Cheongryang High School in Seoul. NKHR's Tong Tong Concerts are talk shows with music and discussions with North Korean resettlers that raise awareness of North Korean human rights and unification issues among high school students in South Korea. Cheongryang High School was the second high school to host a Tong Tong Concert this year. The last Tong Tong Concert was help in Daegu City at Daejung Technical High School.
NKHR Goodwill Ambassador Kim Hee-young, pianist and North Korean resettler Kim Cheol Woong, and three North Korea resettlers joined the Concert. The students already had a high level of understanding about North Korean human rights issues because many of them had previously attended NKHR’s North Korean Human Rights Workshop for Youth last summer. The Tong Tong Concert was so well attended that we needed extra chairs in the 100-person hall.
The Concert started with a performance by a few students and a greeting from the principal. The Concert mainly focused on North Koreans’ experiences resettling in South Korea. The students in the audience had many questions about students’ lives in North Korea. The North Korean resettlers explained that, in many ways, life as a student in North Korea was similar to life as a student in South Korea—in both places, students get stressed by schoolwork and after school lessons. The content of the lessons differed, however. In North Korea, the speakers learned about North Korean ideology and the history of North Korea’s first leader Kim Il-sung.
During the Concert the North Korean speakers also shared experiences from their personal lives in North Korea. The South Korean students seemed shocked to find out that North Korean students also wrote love letters and went out on dates. They were surprised that North Koreans discreetly watched South Korean television shows and practiced the choreography of South Korean pop stars. The students also wondered what motivated the speakers to escape. The speakers explained that North Koreans who escape do so for a many different reasons, but one surprising reason was to be able to wear jeans. North Korea does not even permit this minimum level of freedom.
Between and after the talk sessions, pianist Kim Cheol-woong filled the hall with his beautiful piano performances.
The Tong Tong Concert impressed upon the young high school students the kinds of difficulties North Koreans must overcome even after they arrive in South Korea. It is essential that North and South Koreans communicate with each other to narrow the cultural gap between the two Koreas in order to prepare for unification. NKHR will be holding Tong Tong Concerts in schools around the country to help build bridges between North and South Korean youth. Through these concerts, South Korean youth can better understand North Korea and eventually help facilitate unification of the Korean peninsula.
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