The Board of Directors and staff of NKinUSA announce with a heavy heart that after seven years, NKinUSA will close its doors. We made this decision after lengthy discussions examining a range of alternatives for NKinUSA’s future and ultimately concluded for a number of reasons that closing the organization was the best option.
NKinUSA will merge its remaining assets with those of the Chicago-based nonprofit organization, ENoK, which shares with NKinUSA a similar mission to help North Korean refugees transition to a new life in the United States. ENoK’s signature program, Empower House, whose alumni includes NKinUSA vice president Grace Jo, provides a safe home and a variety of educational services such as academic preparation for college entrance. ENoK’s president, Andrew Hong, who is also a member of our Board of Directors, recused himself from the board decision to merge assets.
NKinUSA is an all-volunteer organization. Nobody–including President Jinhye Jo, Vice President Grace Jo, and all Board, staff and volunteers–receives a salary. That is one reason for our success in ensuring that most of the proceeds from our donations go directly toward our programs. On the other hand, being an all-volunteer organization also means that our unpaid work with NKinUSA often needs to be balanced against other full-time commitments, as Jinhye further elaborates in her message to NKinUSA’s supporters below.
NKinUSA was founded in 2011, three years after Jinhye arrived in the United States with her mother and younger sister Grace as some of the first North Koreans accepted into the country as recognized refugees under the 2004 North Korea Human Rights Act. Having experienced first hand the challenges of escaping North Korea, hiding in China under threat of deportation, imprisonment in both China and North Korea, and finally arriving in the United States to adapt to an entirely new lifestyle, Jinhye helped establish the organization to assist North Korean people currently going through similar struggles.
NKinUSA was set up with the three-pronged mission: 1) to help North Koreans in the process of escaping through Asia obtain safety and freedom in a third country; 2) to help North Korean refugees living in the United States adjust to life in this country; and 3) to spread awareness about North Korea’s human rights crisis to a broad U.S. and international audience. Since 2011 we have helped more than one hundred refugees escape to safety through China. We have assisted refugees living in the U.S. in various ways including financial aid for education or medical expenses, translation, and providing support and advice on such activities as renting an apartment or researching Medicare or Social Security benefits. On raising awareness, 2018 was our busiest year ever, with overall interest peaking after the heads of state summits in Korea and Singapore. Jinhye and Grace participated in interviews with numerous national and international media outlets and gave talks at a range of universities and other organizations across the U.S., using their own personal experiences to explain the wider ongoing North Korean human rights crisis.
We remember that life for the North Korean people remains perilous. Political prison and slave labor camps continue to operate. North Koreans live in fear of arbitrary arrest and summary execution for reasons that people in the West would consider insignificant. The North Korean regime, through a combination of fear and brainwashing, seeks to control every aspect of every North Korean citizen’s life, from birth until death. In recent years, tightened security on both sides of the China-North Korea border has made escaping North Korea more difficult. Women escapees who do make it to China in particular face the high risk of encountering unethical brokers and being trafficked. China, meanwhile, continues to shirk its responsibility as a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol by actively seeking out and repatriating North Korean refugees hiding in China. And still, desperate North Koreans, fully aware of the risks, continue to put their own lives and often the lives of family members in danger in order to escape.
We are deeply grateful to everyone who supported us with your thoughts, prayers, moral encouragement, financial contributions, and volunteered time for the last seven years. We hope you will continue to remember the struggles of our North Korean brethren, both in Asia and in the United States, through support of outstanding organizations like ENoK and others that are working to help North Korean refugees.
MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT JINHYE JO:
To Supporters, Members, and Friends of NKinUSA
Greetings, dear fellow supporters and members of NKinUSA: This coming winter, it is my regret to bring you unfortunate news rather than good news. Already 7 years have passed since we came together as an organization in 2011 with the common goal of helping North Korean refugees. We endured together in moments of joy as well as tears. My already deteriorated health from years of life in prison and torture gradually worsened, and I have barely managed to remain functional thanks to my two past surgeries. Recently, I have thought long and hard about what may be the best path for me, and I have concluded that it would be to take some time to recuperate my health and focus on my studies. The success we had in the past year could not have been possible without our dedicated board members and our selfless volunteers. Despite everyone’s good wishes for my health, there have not been major improvements, and I have again and again let them down by delaying important decisions. I realized I should no longer burden our board members and volunteers, which is why I have decided to make material changes.
재미탈북민 연대를 사랑해주신 분들에게
재미탈북민연대와 탈북자들을 사랑해주신 여러분 안녕하세요.
가을이 가고 겨울이 찾아 오는 계절에 따뜻한 소식 보다 안좋은 소식을 전하게 되어 안타 갑습니다.
저희는 2011년 뜨거운 마음을 가진 분들과 기도로 시작 해서 오늘 까지 탈북자들을 위한 뜻을 가지고 함께 한지도 7년이란 세월이 흘렀습니다.
많은 분들의 뜨거운 격려와 사랑속에 즐겁고 행복한 순간들도 있었고 눈물로 보낸 시간들도 있었습니다.
하지만 어린 시절 부터 모진 고문과 감옥 생활로 망가진 건강은 점점 더 악화 되어 수술을 두번이나 하면서 겨우 하루 하루를 보내왔습니다.
이제는 쉬면서 건강 회복과 공부에 전념하며 자신을 위한 시간을 가지는 것이 좋겠다는 생각을 하였습니다.
지난 일년 동안은 이사진들과 발란티어들 등 단체를 위해 노력 해왔기에 오늘까지 단체가 건전히 잘 운영 되어 왔습니다.
모든 분들이 제 환경과 건강이 회복 되어 지기를 기다려 왔지만 별다른 변화가 없었고 계속 되는 미안하다는 말로 단체 중요한 결정이나 일들을 미뤄 왔습니다.
더이상은 이사진들과 발란티어 들에게 수고해 달라는 부탁을 드리기 미안 하다고 생각 되어 단체 이전을 생각 하게 되었습니다.
Because we, the directors, all have extensive experience working with various organizations dedicated to North Korean human rights, we have decided to continue our roles in fighting for the same cause, just via other routes. As a founder and also as one of the directors of this organization, I am currently in a difficult place, and my younger sister, who had continually delayed her studies due to her work on behalf of the organization, has decided to momentarily pause her volunteer work in order to dedicate more of her time to her studies.
Believing that our efforts on behalf of our people and the human rights of North Korean refugees have been a small but meaningful opportunity to repay the grace and love that we have received, I would like to thank everyone who has supported our board and organization.
저희 이사진들은 북한 인권을 위해 여러 단체를 통해 일해 왔기 때 문 에 저희 재미탈북민연대의 역활 들은 다른 곳에서도 계속해서 해올 수 있음을 믿고 각자 맡은 일을 하기로 결정 하였습니다.
이사 이면서 단체 설립자인 제 자신이 힘든 상황이고 또 다른 이사직을 맏고 있는 저희 동생도 학업을 미뤄 오면서 봉사를 해왔기에 이제는 학업을 위해 좀더 노력 하자는 의미 에서 쉬는 시간을 가지기로 결정 하였습니다.
지난 10년 동안 미국에서 이모 저모로 민족과 탈북자들의 탈출과 인권을 위해 노력 해온 것이 우리가 받은 은혜와 사랑들을 조금이나마 값아 온 길이라고 생각 하며 이사진들과 함께 해주신 모든 분들에게 진심어린감사의 마음을 전합니다.
North Korean Refugees
I hope that all North Korean refugees who have obtained freedom through our organization as well as other refugees to come will continue to work on behalf of other North Korean defectors across the world and on behalf of North Korea’s future human rights situation.
바라는 게 있다면 저희단체를 통해 자유를 찾은 탈북자들과 후대 탈북자들이 계속 해서 전세계적으로 흩어져 살아 가는 탈북자들과 북한 의 미래 와 인권을 위한 노력을 계속 해서 이어 가 달라는 기대를 해봅니다.
In addition, I would like to ask all supporters who have supported our organization so far, to keep the president of ENOK, who has provided essential documents and translation services for our group since its founding, in your prayers and consider supporting ENOK. ENOK has helped countless North Korean student defectors, including the Vice President of NKinUSA, prepare for and attend college by providing homeschool instruction, free meals, and lodging, and has assisted them learn English and become integrated in American society.
I ask that you will continue your support for North Korean refugees by taking an interest in ENOK, which has been working selflessly to provide much needed services to North Korean refugees.
Thank you so much.
또 현재 까지 후원 해주신 모든 후원자들에게 부탁 드리고 싶은 것은 재미 탈북민 연대가 세워 질때부터 통역과 번역 자료 제공 등 많은 수고를 해온 에녹 대표 님을 소개 하오니 기도와 후원으로 함께 해달라는 부탁을 드리고 싶습니다.
에녹 은 재미탈북민 연대 부대표를 비롯해서 여러 탈북 학생들에게 숙식을 제공 하고 홈수쿨을 진행하여 대학에 입학 하도록 도와 왔으며 사회 생활에서 필요한 지식과 영어 사용 과정에 큰 힘을 싫어 주었습니다.
현실적이고 필요성이 있는 봉사로 수고해온 에녹을 앞으로도 사랑해주시고 응원 해 주시기를 바라는 마음으로 여러분들에게 꾸준한 관심과 사랑을 함께 해주시기를 바랍니다.
GoFundMe page to support purchase of new home for Empower House for North Korean refugees