NYU Freedom for North Korea is the club that is taking on the humanitarian crisis in North Korea
Through education and empowerment, F4NK shows students how they can help the people of North Korea.
North Korea: the communist state that makes 1984 look like child’s play; the state whose daily life is shrouded in mystery; state whose once laughed at nuclear aspirations, have become a very real threat. There seems to be very little that outsiders, be they government officials or concerned individuals,, can do to combat such a foreign and untouchable place.
But NYU Freedom for North Korea has a different perspective.
“I feel like a lot of people when it comes to North Korea they see it as an issue that’s untouchable,” Grace Moon, the president of F4NK, said. “But that’s not true because students can voice their opinions on these human rights issue. It’s power to the people.”
The club aims to educate students on the human rights issues, politics, and culture of North Korea through various events conferences, movie nights, and fundraisers. Right now, the club is focusing on taking action. However at its induction the club was much more modest in its ambitions, a culture and interest club rather than an activist focused one.
Co-president Audrey Gregg has been a part of the club since freshman year and has witnessed the changes in the club first hand.
“My freshman year, we handed out cupcakes with Kim Jong Un memes on them. If that’s any indication of how far we’ve come. That is like the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do now.”
The club still does fundraising and cultural events but starting a year ago with former president Austin Lee, the club has become more focused on educating students on the humanitarian crisis in North Korea and what students can do to help.
Last semester they held their largest event yet: an inter-collegiate conference with students from various universities in the tri-state area like Brandeis, Bard, and Princeton.
“We took a long time to plan the event,” Grace said. “The speakers – we had Euna Lee, she was a journalist and she was detained in North Korea and then the Clinton administration had to get involved to get her out. And then Robert Moynton, he’s a part of NYU Journalism and wrote a book called The Invitation Only Zone.”
Around 40 people attended the event and this year Grace and Audrey hope for an even bigger turn out when they host the event again.
Other events this year will include discussions on the role of film as propaganda in North Korea, the issue of human trafficking for female North Korean refugees, and fundraisers to get help transport refugees out of North Korea. Refugee transportation is coordinated either with LINK, Liberty for North Korea, or the Committee for human Rights in North Korea. Grace is also in contact with a professor at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology and hopes to arrange an online conference with her soon.
Despite the club’s more activist centered goals, many NYU students at NYU still consider the club a bit of a joke as if the club itself is a simple Kim Jong Un cupcake.
“When we were tabling at club fest, people see our sign and laugh at it and don’t take us seriously,” said Grace. “My grandparents were born in North Korea and while I was growing up they told me a lot of stories about it. So I take this issue very seriously.”
NYU may not take them seriously now, but the club and the way the rest of the world perceives North Korea is changing. And as the giggling abates, Freedom for North Korea will be there to educate and empower ordinary students to take action.