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International students to host documentary about North Korea

RELEASED: April 9, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — A South Korean student studying political science at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host a screening of "Inside North Korea," a National Geographic documentary.

The screening is set for 5 p.m. April 13 in Room 102 of Hibbard Hall.

Yeoi Lin "Linda" Lee said she was shocked when she learned of the human rights violations taking place in her neighboring country, North Korea.

"Because I grew up in South Korea, people will often ask me questions about North Korea and the Kim Jong II regime," Lee said. "But even as a neighbor to that country, I have only seen a small portion of what actually goes on there."

Lee and the Korean Student Association will work with Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) to show the documentary on UW-Eau Claire's campus. The film is by Lisa Ling, a sister of one of the two American journalists recently detained in North Korea. Posing as an undercover medical coordinator and closely guarded by government minders throughout her trip, Ling moved inside the nation. The documentary provides a glimpse inside North Korea, with personal accounts of efforts by humanitarians and the challenges they face working with the Kim Jong II regime, Lee said.

LiNK is a movement of students, administrators and community members who want to raise awareness and support for the modern-day Underground Railroad that exists in Southeast Asia, Lee said.

Thousands of North Korean refugees have fled to China. North Korean law dictates that defection is punishable by execution or imprisonment in a concentration camp, making it dangerous for refugees to be sent back to their native country if caught, Lee said. There is a modern-day underground railroad that refugees use to seek asylum in safe countries, she said.

Some South Korean students at UW-Eau Claire were initially uncomfortable with the Korean Student Association's decision to host the LiNK screening, Lee said.

"Because North Korea has such negative connotations, many South Koreans do not want to be associated with it for fear that these attributes will be generalized to all Koreans," Lee said.

However, she is convinced that it is important to raise awareness about the hardships that humans are facing in North Korea, Lee said.

"When we think of North Korea, we think of Kim Jong II and nuclear weapons," Lee said. "What we forget is that it is not just political. There are humans inside the country who are suffering and whose rights are being violated."

Lee said she hopes the documentary will make students and community members more aware of the issues facing North Koreans.

"If people have even a slight interest in North Korea or human rights, they will want to see this film," Lee said. "It is a unique opportunity for all of us who do not have direct access to the country and its people."

For more information about the film, visit LiNK's Web site.

Yeoi Lin "Linda" Lee can be contacted at leeyl@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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