Think of all your worldly possessions: phone, car, house, books, music, clothing, games, and even food. It’s hard to imagine 2019 without them in a modern society. Now imagine you have none of the above. You and your family are on your last slices of bread, you only have the clothes you are wearing and you’re sleeping in the subway. Jobs are scarce and winter is coming. Crossing a North Korean border is almost certain death, even with bribes. But it’s your only chance at a happy and hunger-free life. Moreover, not everyone can cross. Even with the talks of denuclearization and unified sports teams, North Korea is still the most repressed country on Earth.
Despite these oppressed situations. North Korea’s Millennials have become creative risk-takers and entrepreneurs in a black market called Jangmadang. Some have been able to slowly lift themselves out of poverty by buying and selling goods from the Chinese border. Think of your local farmers market of outdoor venue but it’s also your only source of information of the real world. It’s not the products that desire a way out of poverty, it’s the determination to obtain information to find a way out.
LiNK (Liberty in North Korea), a California-based non-profit is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating North Koreans, and sometimes a reunion. The Jangmadang Game is one of the most unique documentaries that is sourced from the refugees themselves. Of the array of North Korean documentaries (yes, I've seen almost all), this feature comes with a focus for foreigners to understand. This is the perfect film to get your feel wet and actually help. It is available in several languages and is free to provide. Watch here.
LiNK is action:
Expand your palate:
Under The Same Sky: A Memoir of Survival: Hope & Faith by Joesph Kim
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With North Korean's Elite by Suki Kim
In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey To Freedom by Yeonmi Park
A Thousand Miles To Freedom: My Escape from North Korea by Eunsun Kim
The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Cholhwan Kang
Dear Leader by Jang Jin-Sung
The Propaganda Game
A State of Mind
Yeonmi Park TED Talk
Since 2011, I have been studying the state of North Korea and its citizens . In 2013 I visited South Korea and had the opportunity to speak with defectors and get involved. I'm a proud and avid sponsor of LiNK and their work. My dissertation talks are available currently in South Carolina.