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.

CanKor Editor Interviewed on Russian Television

‘Food shortage not No.1 priority for deal’

Russia Today, 1 March 2012

Erich Weingartner, a Canadian humanitarian affairs consultant, believes the food shortage and leadership change in North Korea are not primary driving forces behind the agreement.

The country’s always short of food,” he noted in an interview with RT, “Right now probably not as desperately in need as it was a year ago. They have just received in January some 500,000 tons of food from China, so this is not the number one priority for the particular action that’s happening right now.

Weingartner also pointed to the fact that the agreement was actually discussed by the US and North Korea prior to Kim Jong Il’s death. However, he also noted that the present deal is not a formal agreement, but is more in line with what North Korea likes to call “words for words” and “actions for actions.”“So it depends not only on North Korea and what they do, but it also depends on how the US is going to react in the next period of time and whether or not the six-party talks process gets back on track, and what happens in that regard.

He said the other five parties, namely South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States, had to do their part in the negotiations.

As for the drills recently conducted by the US and South Korea, Weingartner took note of the fact that North Korea isn’t the only cause of concern for America in the region.

The drills are an annual event and have to do partly with North Korea and the threat from North Korea, but also partly the US asserting its power in the region. And so it has as much to do with the US facing China and protecting its allies in Northeast Asia, as well as protecting economic interests there.

He said China was not likely to appreciate the exercises.

Related articles

New Travel Opportunity in North Korea!

[DISCLAIMER: CanKor is not responsible for the content of this advertisement. Weingartner Consulting is not a commercial partner of Koryo Tours, nor do we receive any financial benefit from posting this announcement. We do so only to alert our readers of interesting opportunities, since one of the most frequently asked questions concerns the possibility of travel to the DPRK. –CanKor]

New Travel Opportunity in North Korea!

Unique and exciting chance in travel to the most unique areas in the country – Let the adventure begin!

Koryo Tours is proud to once again be the first and only company to offer an all-new tourism opportunity for anyone wanting to go and see some of the more remote parts of North Korea. – allow us to explain;

We have been running tours to the Rason Special Economic Area for several years now; this part of the DPRK is located in the far North on the Chinese and Russian border and offers a look at the least visited part of the world’s most unique country – and the only place in North Korea where tourists can visit a local market, local bank, and many other unique spots. Lying to the south of Rason the major industrial centre of Chongjin and the stunning mountains of the Chilbosan range have long been among the most difficult parts of the DPRK to get to due to the need to charter a plane from Pyongyang to reach this area – here you can overnight in the only homestay in the country as well as seeing the highlights of the second largest city in the DPRK and some of the most stunning scenery in Asia. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Canadiana to North Korean Defectors

In the week of 20 February the Canadian Embassy in Seoul is launching a new program that will teach Canadian English and the Canadian way of life to North Korean defectors. At the core of the curriculum are Canadian values and concepts such as multiculturalism and parliamentary democracy. 

There are currently some 5,000 Canadian English teachers in South Korea. From among these, a select group of volunteers have been chosen to expose groups of defectors (most of whom already studying at universities in Seoul) to Western culture and global perspectives, at the same time reinforcing Canada’s longstanding commitment to human rights, and to peaceful reunification on the Korean peninsula.

Canadian Embassy in Seoul (photo by CanKor)

The project is organized in partnership with the Citizen’s Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, the winner of Canada’s inaugural Diefenbaker Human Rights Award in March 2011. The NKHR has identified Canadian teachers to assist with curriculum development and teach the initial course.

ROK government support has been received via a diplomatic note and in a meeting between Canadian Ambassador David Chatterson and Chun Yung-woo, Senior Secretary to the ROK President for Foreign Affairs and National Security.

The courses will be taught in the Embassy’s public area classroom. One wonders whether, along with learning about Canadian values, the students will gain a healthy appetite for establishing a new life for themselves in Canada–and with what enthusiasm Canadian authorities will welcome them as potential citizens.

For further details about this initiative, including objectives, activities and participants, please see: Inside Canada Defectors Program.

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