Saturday, April 28, 2012
The art exhibiton begins at 5 p.m. at The DAAC
LiNK’s film The People’s Crisis will be shown at 8:00 across the street
Calvin College's (106) Center Art Gallery
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For a small country, North Korea poses a big and mysterious threat to the world. North Korea is known for high walls, machine guns and a domineering government. North Korea takes extreme measures to keep the rest of the world out of their country, and to trap their people in.
North Korea has a population of 24 million people. According to the World Food Programme, 6.2 million of these are short of food, and North Koreans face continuous systematic crimes against humanity from their own government. There are 11 crimes against humanity as laid out by Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. North Korea has offended 10 of these including, murder, extermination, enslavement, torture, rape/sexual slavery/enforced prostitution, and persecution.
It is almost impossible for a North Korean citizen to escape these conditions. Thousands of refugees flee their own country every year, and those who do escape North Korea usually have to face China. The Chinese government returns refugees to North Korea where they will be put in concentration camps or executed and three generations of the refugee’s family will be tortured. Those who do manage to escape safely into China must cut off all familial ties and face the threat of slavery. Male refugees often become slaves while “[seventy to ninety] percent of female refugees get involved with the sex trade,” said Grace Kim of the Calvin College LiNK chapter.
LiNK is a grassroots non-profit that exists to provide emergency relief to refugees and to educate people about the North Korean crisis in order to pursue change. “Even though they escape North Korea, they’re in a situation where they are still deceived,” said Kim referring to the Chinese government and those who take advantage of refugees by selling them into slavery. LiNK helps willing refugees escape China and enter a country where they will be safe.
Calvin College students Grace Kim and Patrick Hekman are leading this year's LiNK event. A South Korean herself, Kim is passionate about the crimes happening in North Korea, “My prayer is that the barrier between North Korea and South Korea will fall and I can help rebuild North Korea when it does. We were not meant to be split,” she said. Kim has been involved with the LiNK event at Calvin College for the past three years, this is the first year it being taken off campus, “For the first time we get to show the film to the Grand Rapids community, not just Calvin.”
The event is free from 5-10 p.m. starting with an art exhibition at the DAAC entitled Voice for the Voiceless. Artists are invited to submit artwork for the show. LiNK’s film The People’s Crisis will be shown at 8:00 across the street at Calvin’s (106) Center Art Gallery.
The event will include food (including Korean food), discussion, and the opportunity to get involved in LiNK’s effort in North Korea. “Go to see passion. It’s young people working together to make a difference,” said Hekman, who will have artwork displayed at the exhibit. “It is a joy and a privilege to work with an organization so close to the crisis. They are brothers and sisters united by crisis.”
Freelance Journalist, Journalism and Communications Intern with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council