Dr. Jai Poong Ryu has donated $27,000 to NKSC US and if NKSC US can raise the same amount by the end of 2016, he pledges to donate another $20,000 in 2017!
How did you come to learn about NKSC US?
I met Mr. Kang Cheol Hwan, the founder of NKSC and Chairman of NKSC US last May in Korea. He was speaking on a forum and was quite impressive. I didn’t have a chance to speak with him until his last visit to Washington, DC where he spoke at the Johns Hopkins University – School of Advanced International Studies. I was very fortunate to have run into him again and heard about the work of NKSC US.
What appealed to you about the organization to donate?
I have been working on issues of the Korean peninsula and unification for a long time and through the debates and conversation, I have come to realize that it does not matter what political means will lead to the change of North Korea. Whether through one method or another, the common denominator is the dissemination of information to the people of North Korea. No matter what happens before or after unification or changes on the Korean peninsula, this is vital. It’s something we need to do and there can be no conservative objection or justifiable criticism against dissemination of information into North Korea.
And I feel that now is the time to make a difference in this field. Earlier this year, Rep. Matt Salmon, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, introduced the Distribution and Promotion of Rights and Knowledge Act for greater access of information to empower the people of North Korea. I understand that Rep. Salmon is soon retiring and this bill may become an idea that dies out if people don’t push for it to be passed. We need to have civic society support to raise consciousness about the importance of information dissemination so that this is a priority for Congress and the activist community.
When I met Mr. Kang and Christine Han, I felt that NKSC US is the catalyst that is needed in this movement. These are dedicated people whom I’ve been looking for whose organization is committed to bringing information to the people of North Korea.
What do you believe is important for the North Korean human rights movement?
When you think about human rights, you think of the Bill of Rights, First Amendment rights, no taxation without representation, and concepts like habeas corpus. But one of the fundamental components of human rights is the freedom to access information that is available. It’s as fundamental as the right to water and air. Without information, what would human beings do? We are information processors. It’s how humanity progresses. But North Koreans are devoid of such information, which is the grossest violation of human rights.
So, what I want to see in the realm of human rights in public discussion is for the inclusion of the rights to information access.
What would you like to say to other supporters of the movement?
I want my donation to motivate other supporters to contribute and donate. The North Korea Strategy Center has a proven history of constant efforts for the human rights of the North Korean people and I believe the organization has a promising future to make further strides. There are many young leaders involved, which encourages me, and I would really like to see other members and supporters contribute so that NKSC may grow its operations.
Lastly and most importantly, I want to emphasize the importance of passing Representative Matt Salmon’s (R-AZ) bill, the Distribution and Promotion of Rights and Knowledge Act. I want my donation to fill the gap until the bill is passed, so that NKSC can continue to do important work and sustain its operations.