CanKor Megaphone: Meet Seongmin Lee, HanVoice’s First Pioneer!

MegaphoneIN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE: As many of you may know, I have been involved with North KoreaHV_Ignite_Poster_Image-1n human rights issues with an organization called HanVoice (, which I helped found in 2007. Since then, HanVoice has grown into the largest non-profit in Canada dedicated to North Korean human rights issues.

When it comes to North Korean refugees, one of the key areas of need that we have identified is leadership. This is especially true for the North Korean community in South Korea, where most of these refugees ultimately settle. Despite more than a fifteen year presence within South Korea, very few North Koreans have emerged as leaders of their own community.

With a first-of-its-kind program designed to address these challenges, HanVoice is pleased to announce the launch of the HanVoice Pioneers Project. Inviting a bright future leader to Canada, this program is designed to impart upon this candidate the tools necessary to speak on behalf of the North Korean refugee community worldwide. This will include not only learning English, but taking advocacy classes and “walking the halls of power” by interning at a Member of Parliament’s office. Read the rest of this entry »

“Struggle for Survival” fundraising event in Toronto

Megaphone“Struggle for Survival” is an event supported by the Scadding Court Community Centre in Toronto, Canada, and the office of Toronto City Councillor Raymond Cho. Jihyun Kwon, one of the organizers, asked CanKor to help promote the event, whose purpose is to raise funds to assist North Korean refugees in Toronto. See details in the poster below.

The event is sponsored by “North Koreans in Canada,” a small non-profit, non-partisan organization devoted to serving North Korean refugees (both status and non-status) living in Canada. According to this organization, there are currently about 2,000 North Koreans who have found refuge in Toronto, but still struggling to survive. Read the rest of this entry »

Final Arirang mass games performance to be held end of September

[The following post has been made available by Koryo Tours. –CanKor]

Mass Games – the end of Arirang has come

Koryo Tours is sad to announce that the Arirang Mass Games are about to come to an end. The final performance is expected to be on 27th or 29th September 2012. We are informed by our colleagues in Pyongyang that the event is now finished and will not be extended. The Arirang Mass Games started in 2002 and became an annual event in 2007, every year since then it has been extended and has run into October which we, and our partners in the DPRK, expected to happen again this year. However it was not to be. Sorry for anyone who didn’t make it to the performance.

Arirang Festival mass games display in Pyongyang.

Arirang Festival mass games display in Pyongyang. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not completely beyond possibility that an extension may be announced still though, this has happened before after all. If, by some miracle, the Arirang Mass Games are extended and new dates added we will of course let you know immediately

Next year, 2013, marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. This is seen in North Korea as a historic victory and we would expect it to be marked as such so there is a possibility that a new form of Mass Games will be staged to mark this event. This far we have no more news about this but as always we will keep everyone on our mailing list informed and up to date as soon as there is any information to be told. Koryo Tours as always will get you the best access to whatever special events are going on in North Korea when you make your trip and we look forward to seeing what they can come up with the replace the Arirang event. While this particular event seems to have run its course we do expect the Mass Games form to carry on and await whatever version comes next, watch this space!

Kind regards from all at Koryo Tours

CanKor Megaphone: The North Korean Human Rights Film Festival in Toronto

If Kim Jong Il’s opinions mean anything, the power of film cannot be ignored. The late dictator spent quite a bit of energy trying to vitalize the North Korean film industry – to the point that he kidnapped a South Korean director Shin Sang Ok and his actress wife Choe Un Hee to provide an injection of fresh air into what he thought was a stagnant film scene. This emphasis on film seems to have left a mark on the North Korean people as well. One of the fondest pre-famine memories of those who have escaped the DPRK often revolve around going to the local cinema house to view the latest and greatest coming out of Pyongyang’s movie mill.

There’s not much that Thornhill native Gilad Cohen agrees with Kim Jong Il, but the power of film is one of them. Cohen, the founder of the North Korean Human Rights Film Festival in Toronto, (NKHRFF for short) was a former English teacher in the ROK. As with many folks in Canada, he had very little knowledge of the DPRK and what went inside that country. Read the rest of this entry »

Dutch Seminar on Outsourcing Garment and Textile Production in North Korea

[The Dutch company MODINT Buying and Production and MODINT Logistics are holding a sourcing and production seminar on 19 April 2012 in Zeist, Netherlands. The following information reached CanKor through Paul Tjia, Director of GPI Consultancy. –CanKor]

The production costs in China, where wages are rising fast, are increasing and companies are searching for cheaper locations. This is already visible in the field of garments and textiles. For this reason, MODINT, the Dutch trade association for fashion, interior design, carpets and textiles, will organize again a seminar on sourcing and production countries (19 April, from 13.00-17.00 hours). In this edition, MODINT will focus on alternative production countries, including North-Korea, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Several speakers will share their thoughts on how realistic these countries are as alternatives to China.

For the production of garments, North-Korea is one of these upcoming destinations. Although the Cold War has not ended, and political tensions remain high, more than 70 South-Korean garment companies are already producing clothing in own factories in the Kaeasong Economic Zone, employing tens of thousands of North-Korean workers. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korean Gulag Conference to be held in Washington DC

The US-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) has announced that a one-day conference will be held in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, 10 April 2012, entitled “Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Political Prisoner Camp System & Calling for Its Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Dismantlement”. The conference is organized together with the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, and will be hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics at the C. Fred Bergsten Conference Center (1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036).

Two CanKor Brain Trust members have prominent parts in the proceedings. As Chair of HRNK, Roberta Cohen (Non-resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution) will make opening remarks. David Hawk, author of “Hidden Gulag” (First & Second Edition), will be the first presenter in the first panel of the conference.  Read the rest of this entry »

CanKor Brain Trust Members Interviewed on Radio Canada International

[CanKor Brain Trust member Charles Burton and Editor-in-Chief Erich Weingartner were interviewed by Radio Canada International’s columnist Lynn Desjardins about the recent US-DPRK agreement. Clicking on the image below will take you to the RCI website, where the interviews can be heard. –CanKor]

Radio Canada International, 1 March 2012

Canadian analysts wary of North Korean promise to suspend its nuclear programme

In a new deal with the United States, North Korea has agreed to suspend its nuclear activities in exchange for food aid. But Canadian analysts warn against reading too much into the new agreement. The Link’s Lynn Desjardins tells us what might or might not work to change the situation in North Korea.

Click on image to listen.

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