(NOTE: Anyone interested in helping LiNK's activities in Korea can email Adrian Hong.)
I sat in on a guest lecture by LiNK's Adrian Hong (who is in town on other business) last night on human rights in North Korea. Much of what he talked about was old news to me but it was still a good chance to brush up on my knowledge.
However, it is apparently unknown to many Korean students. As part of his discussion, Hong played a video of interviews with Korean college and high school students. They displayed an appalling lack of knowledge about what is going on in the northern half of Korea and the kind of conditions that North Koreans have to endure. While the tape was only anecdotal evidence, my experience with talking to young Koreans suggests that many of them are just as ignorant about conditions in North Korea.
I can guess a few reasons for that. First, most college kids want to enjoy their lives before they start their careers and just don't want to think about such things. Those who are interested in social/political issues often find themselves involved with leftist groups because that is the only show it town.
Part of the problem is that the Korean public when through anti-Pyongyang propaganda overkill in the past, as Oranckay noted:
Frankly, I think one of the reasons the SK people are so willing to go along with recent policies is because they’re the only thing that hadn’t been tried so far and they are still excited by the “progress” being made. One of the single most impressive moments of the whole Pyongyang summit was when KJI started telling jokes about himself. Only a few years prior all Northerners were drawn as wolves in SK papers. No one had ever even heard his evil voice before but now he was sounding human. Thinking of him as a neighborhood ajeossi might even be dangerous, but I think people were just tired of decades of thinking that a little humanity wasn’t even a possibility.
That makes some younger Koreans less likely to believe the truth about what is going on in North Korea.
That is slowly changing. I have long said that gyopo were going to have to take the lead in educating their young cousins in the ROK about the situation in North Korea. Having been much less exposed to both anti-communist and Hanchongryon-type propaganda, Korean-Americans can more easily look at the situation in North Korea for what it is and can share that truth with their cousins in the old country. So I am a big fan of LiNK's activities in Korea.
Another nice thing about LiNK from a coalition-building prospective is that they are not a religious-based or conservative organization, which means they can approach Koreans across the political spectrum without being pigeon-holed as 'right-wing Christians.' In fact, Hong told me after the lecture that the LiNK chapter at Ewha University broke off and formed their own organization because they did not consider LiNK to be hardcore enough.
Be that as it may, they serve an important role in Korea and I'm glad they are here.