I should have posted this two weeks ago but did not for a couple of reasons. First, I was waiting for LiNK or LiNK-Asia to post their own summary of the event to which I could link (nothing as of December 26 but there is a happy post on Han-mi). Second, I wanted to finish my reports on the Seoul Summit at One Free Korea.
The Sunshine to the North student symposium for North Korean human rights was cosponsored by Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) and several other student organizations. It took place on Saturday, December 10.
The symposium was originally going to be a Ewha University (with an Ewha U. student group sponsoring), but the school administration blocked them. It was not clear to me but the administration was either pressured by leftist student groups to cancel or canceled out of fear of of being pressured by those groups. Another possibility, not mentioned but in line with other government actions (last paragraph), was that the Korean government asked the school administration to cancel the event.
The same thing happened with Sookmyung University and one other school before they were finally able to have it at Sungshin Women's University.
When I made it to the front of the Sungshin University, I saw exactly 14 leftist protesters. LiNK's Adrian Hong (in the dark gray jacket and jeans) tried to engage their leader in dialog but they were not interested.
Despite the location having been changed 3 times, roughly 300 students attended the symposium; a testament to the wonders of modern communications. That number included a few students from the USA, Japan (RENK) and Belgium.
Adrian Hong and another member of the American branch of LiNK were two of about 8 speakers. I don't know her name but I will try to stay on her good side if we ever meet. She was really, really angry that more was not being done for human rights in North Korea.
The symposium was a great way to rally and energize the students for the cause but I have two complaints: First, the timing was not good for a student event. Having it just before final exams probably hurt attendance some (a few Korean college students actually do study). Also, by the time the next term starts in March, most of the energy generated by the symposium will have dissipated. I realize that the symposium was tied to the Seoul Summit taking place at the same time, but I hope that there is some kind of follow-up event in late March.
My second complaint is that I did not see any organizational workshops during the symposium. The students need energizing but they need to learn organizational skills more. I would certainly welcome a correction if there is organizational training going on.
(Rally pictures tomorrow)