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 (www.hanvoice.ca), 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 »

Conflicting Messages: Whipping Out The Crystal Ball

When it comes to message control, our current Prime Minister’s office has nothing compared to the likes of Pyongyang. The rulers of the DPRK have for the last seventy years been quite fastidious when it has come to shaping the regime’s official message. After all, when you enjoy the benefits of controlling both the media and your diplomats abroad, the only thing you really have to worry about are the folks who decide to leave your tightly-controlled society.

It’s surprising that despite some extreme shocks to the system, including the famine and the death of the only leader the country had ever known in 1994, the regime’s grip did not grow any “looser.” Perhaps the areas around the country’s northern provinces have become a little more porous after the famine, but despite the relative free flow of knowledge that appears to be growing in the borderlands between China, the number of people (successfully) fleeing the country has dwindled, especially after the recent power succession.

This makes the conflicting messages coming out of the country quite surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

38 North: North Korea after Kim Jong Il: The Risks of Improvisation by Rudiger Frank

[From time to time CanKor alerts readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is authored by CanKor Brain Trust member Rudiger Frank, Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna. Please follow our link to this article on the 38North site. –CanKor]

Kim Jong Il’s death was announced less than three weeks ago. But the world is surprisingly quickly getting used to the new leadership in North Korea, as if there were no concerns left at all. To provide a counterweight to this amazingly complacent mood, and the many speculations about a stable North Korean future (including my own), I’d like to play devil’s advocate and ponder a relatively pessimistic scenario based on my reading of some developments that should be watched carefully.

We do have reason to believe that the current course of events related to succession in North Korea is more of the improvisation type than the outcome of a long-term strategy. In the end, it might indeed work and Kim Jong Un and the system will survive, but this is by no means to be taken for granted. Read the rest of this entry »

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