Storytellers for Change 2016

Storytellers for Change aims to develop the leadership and advocacy skills of young North Korean defectors through storytelling training. NKSC US’ endeavours to grow the global movement led by North Korean defectors committed to advocating for positive change in North Korea, by using storytelling to share their diverse personal experiences and perspectives as newly ‘global’ citizens, with a common concern to improve conditions in North Korea. The program simultaneously cultivates practical skills that participants can take with them on their diverse career paths.

Stories by individuals can bring attention to the structural roots of chronic poverty, dire health and living conditions, and systemic abuse of human rights, in ways that demand accountability and prompt change at community, institutional, and government levels (See Story Center, 2016). In this 5 week pilot program, defector participants will be connected with US­-based storytelling practitioners and mentors, deepening exchange, dialogue, and networks committed towards a common goal of elevating the importance of addressing human rights abuses in North Korea.

At the end of the program, each defector participant will have produced their story in the medium of their choosing; given the time and technical limitations, they will be encouraged to consider: written word (poetry, literature, written narrative, script), photography, podcasts, or other mediums that are accessible and not technically complicated. We believe that using even simple tools, stories can be shared in powerful and artistic ways.


Paula Junn

Paula Junn

Paula Junn was born in New Jersey, USA and raised in Seoul, South Korea. A multi­disciplinary artist and experienced storyteller with a certificate in Narrative Practice (Storytelling), Paula received her MFA in Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts at California Institute of Integral Studies. Paula is passionate about the role of storytelling and art in building strong, healthy communities, and hosts a monthly Story Night and Potluck in Oakland, CA.

Yeong Lim

Yeong Lim

Yeong Lim was born in Japan, but spent most of his life growing up in the US. He graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2012 and currently works as Senior Producer at CBS Corporation in New York. Previously, he worked at NY1 News as News Assistant/Field Producer. Yeong’s passion for storytelling derives from his multicultural upbringing, and he finds nothing more personally rewarding than sharing with others information and knowledge that they might not have. As a multilingual journalist, producer, and event director such communication is not only his passion, but his calling.


Dr. Jason Ahn

Dr. Jason Ahn is an emergency medicine doctor at Harvard. Dr. Ahn was also a Fulbright Scholar in Seoul, Korea, where he conducted an independent qualitative research study on the social factors that affect the health of North Koreans. He also created, led, and executed the production of a documentary film called, “Divided Families,” chronicling the plight of Korean Americans separated from their loved ones, forced apart by the Korean War. He continues advocating for Korean American divided families through the National Coalition for Divided Families.

Jeongki Lim

Jeongki Lim

Based in New York City, Jeongki is the founder of Stella, the intelligent media production management platform. A recognized expert in data visualization and design research, Jeongki is an Adjunct Professor at Parsons The New School of Design, and a 2016 Fellow of New York University Tisch Cinema Research Institute. He hold a B.A. in Visual Media and an M.S. in Applied Urban Science from NYU.


Buheung Hyeon 

Buheung Hyeon

Buheung is entering his senior year at Columbia University, where he is completing his degree in Political Science. Currently a Research Intern at Johns Hopkins SAIS US­KI Institute, Buheung hopes to become a political analyst and work for the North Korean people.


Michelle Kim

Michelle Kim is a writer with roots in South Korea and the United States. She worked in Seoul as a correspondent for Reuters. Some of her features on North Korea include the 2014 reunion of war­torn Korean families, the UN Commission of Inquiry hearings, as well as a piece on young defectors using their personal narratives to highlight human rights abuses in North Korea. Michelle recently graduated from New York University with a M.A. in literary journalism, and holds a B.A. in International Studies from Ewha Womans University.

Whitney Lovett 

Whitney Lovett

Texan­born Whitney is an Associate Producer at CBS, New York. Whitney studied Radio, TV & Film at college, minoring in Journalism and Japanese. A founding member, president and historian for the University of North Texas’ Korean Culture Exchange Club, she spent a summer studying abroad in Japan, and a year in Seoul at Yonsei University. Whitney has written for major music magazines, worked at a local TV station, an independent film studio in Austin, Texas, and has a cat called Kimchi.

Paul Kyumin Lee headshot

Paul Kyumin Lee

Paul Kyumin Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in New Jersey, US. He is currently studying at Yale University majoring in Political Science and East Asian Studies. Before

taking a year to study in Northeast China and Taiwan under the Richard U. Light Fellowship, Paul served as former president of Yale ThiNK (There’s Hope in North Korea), Yale’s North Korean human rights advocacy organization. Last summer, he worked on a project called the #onekorea campaign, telling the story of his grandparents in order to encourage young Koreans to learn about their own grandparents’ backgrounds. Paul’s dream is the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.

Harvard Human Rights in North Korea (HRiNK) Peer Mentors


Bo Seo

Bo Seo is a senior at Harvard studying political theory. He is co­president of Harvard Human Rights in North Korea and Editor­in­ Chief of an upcoming anthology of diasporic literature and art on the divided Korean Peninsula. His interest in communication and storytelling found expression in competitive debate. He won both the World Schools and the World Universities Debating Championships, coaches the Australian National Debate Team and has mentored for debate non­profits. Passionate about human rights, he has held positions with the Australian Human Rights Commission, with a former Australian Prime Minister and a former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Yumi Lee

Yumi Lee is rising sophomore at Harvard, hoping to pursue medicine in the future. She holds leadership positions on the Asian­American Christian Fellowship, the Korean Association, and the Phillips Brooks House Association. Her interest in the North Korea crisis began when she got involved with the non­profit organization, Liberty in North Korea, and she is now a member of Harvard Human Rights in North Korea. She is excited to meet fellow members of the program and to develop leadership and communication skills together.

Kenneth Palmer

Kenneth Palmer

Kenneth is a rising sophomore at Harvard College. His academic interests range from political history to literature. He is currently the Public Relations director for Harvard Human Rights in North Korea and copy editor for the Harvard International Review. He has tutored students living Indonesia looking to improve their writing skills and English proficiency. His interest in DPRK stems from a broader interest in working to reduce injustices through information and direct action, and a belief that direct interaction with victims of injustice is the best path toward informed and effective service.


Catherine Myong

Catherine Myong is a junior studying Statistics at Harvard College. She is one of the co­presidents of Harvard Human Rights in North Korea and recently worked on Harvard Belfer Center Fellow Jieun Baek;s upcoming book on information access in North Korea. Catherine also spends time mentoring young local students in Boston’s Chinatown during the school year. She is interested in health inequality and East Asian history.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Click here to help sponsor the Storytellers for Change program!

You can also email media@nksc.us to speak with one of our team members and learn how to get involved.

NKSC Leadership Development Program

We believe in the importance of people powered change in North Korea, and at the heart of this belief lies a responsibility to empower North Korean defectors, to equip them with the confidence and skills they need to grow into the next generation of leaders for change in North Korea.

To foster leaders among the defector community, our initiatives have been designed to growing their personal and professional capacity through programs such as the Daedong River Forum, Journalist Academy, and Unification Education in South Korea.

Daedong River Forum

From December 2008 to December 2011, NKSC ran the Daedong River Forum, a project aiming to unite leaders within the North Korean defector community in South Korea. Defectors were able to actively engage experts on topical issues, increasing their capability to participate in long-term civic efforts towards the democratization of North Korea. Through regular meetings, open forums and published white papers, the Daedong River Forum strengthened the role of defectors in civil society and acted as an instrumental step towards supporting peaceful democratization in North Korea.


The forum consisted of: (1) biweekly closed discussions on the topics of politics, economics, military, society and culture, with 25 regular participants including defector leaders and North Korea experts; (2) bimonthly open forums to share opinions with the public and other organizations, with reports from the open forums being provided to relevant agencies; and (3) bi-annual white papers that included analysis and policy recommendations for democratization in North Korea.

In total, there were 72 bi-weekly internal meetings, 36 bi-weekly training meetings for guest lectures and reunification, and 18 open forums and white papers published for each open forum.

Journalist Academy

From October 2011 to September 2014, NKSC ran the Journalist Academy, which aimed to cultivate a network of defector journalists through structured theoretical and practical training.

The five objectives of the Academy were: (1) To provide training to prepare defectors to find employment in the South Korean media; (2) To cultivate journalists over the long-term who can restore free press in North Korea, an important element in educating the North Korean; (3) To increase the role of defectors in informing the South Korean public and the international community about North Korea; (4) To prioritize, inter alia, the restoration of free press in North Korea in case of a sudden turn of events; and (5) To establish an information network that could lead North Korea towards democratization.


In total, 268 defectors participated in Journalist Academy, and through writing workshops, publication of writing, and practical desk training, they emerged with increased political awareness and markedly improved written communications skills – 90% of the Journalist Academy instructors reported improvement in the students’ writing skills. This is a significant achievement considering that most participants had received only up until middle school education while they lived in North Korea.

57 students who performed particularly well in the writing workshops then moved on to participate in a special training module called “Eyes of Pyongyang”, where they received regular one-on-one feedback on their writing. The final written pieces of these students were published in various online outlets, as well as in NKSC’s self-published ‘Eyes of Pyongyang’ magazine. Five issues of the magazine were published and 1,300 copies distributed.


NKSC also partnered with nine media organizations, including Chosun Ilbo, DailyNK, and North Korea Reform Radio, to provide internship opportunities at these media organizations for 9 of the Journalist Academy participants.

Unification Education

From 2011 to 2015, NKSC ran the Unification Education program in Seoul, supported by the South Korean Ministry of Unification. Designed to foster much-needed dialogue between younger North Korean defectors and South Korean students, NKSC provided young North Korean defectors with public speaking and storytelling training to prepare them to speak about their experiences in North Korea.


Through this program, spokespeople visited over 400 schools, including 90 middle schools, 135 high schools, as well as universities, foreign schools and international schools, as well as alternative schools.  A total of over 50 defectors partook in the training to become spokespeople for Unification Education.

2016 US-based Leadership Development Program

Having experienced living in both North and South Korea, defectors are uniquely placed to speak to the vast cultural, social, political and economic differences between North Korea and the rest of the world.

In 2016, NKSC US will launch a US-based leadership development program for young North Korean defectors. Building on our experience supporting defectors through various capacity building programs in Seoul, our US program will connect young professionals in the US with young defectors, to provide a cross-cultural learning and mentorship experience in both an offline and offline setting. We feel it’s important to offer young North Koreans opportunities to travel, study and experience life abroad, to expand their worldviews and develop them into internationally-minded, aware, global citizens.

The program will includes components that develop:

•Soft skills and leadership skills

•Effective communication, especially cross-cultural communication

•English language ability

•Networking opportunities

•Community service activity and a sense of service

Beginning in March 2016, we will be recruiting US-based young professionals who are eager to mentor young defector participants. No specific qualifications are required, however mentors must be committed, empathetic, and energetic, with a strong long-term interest in acting as a role model for young North Koreans.