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North Korean defectors to reveal harrowing detail of escape at Night of Freedom event

North Korean defectors to reveal harrowing detail of escape at Night of Freedom event

Visitors look through a wire fence covered with prayer ribbons wishing for reunification of the two Koreas. Photo taken at Imjingak, near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea, on June 20, 2019. | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

North Korean defectors who risked everything for freedom will speak Wednesday night at Liberty in North Korea’s annual Night of Freedom, which will be held online this year.

The hourlong event will be held at 7 p.m. Eastern time and will include three stories from defectors who escaped one of the world’s most repressive regimes, along with appearances by celebrities, raffles, and never-before-released short film.

Liberty in North Korea plans to broadcast the event from its headquarters in Long Beach, California. It will host a similar event on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. Pacific time.

Anyone interested in participating can sign up for free on Liberty in North Korea’s website. So far, over 2,000 people worldwide have done so. Liberty in North Korea CEO Hannah Song said it will be the group’s first large online event.

“What are we willing to give up for freedom?” Song said in an interview with The Christian Post. “When I hear the risks our North Korean friends take, these are things I can’t even begin to fathom deciding. I’ve had to think about that very deeply every time I’ve heard their stories. What is my freedom to me?”

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Along the 3,000-mile trek from North Korea to South Korea, defectors must cross the North Korean border, dodge human traffickers and the Chinese police, and brave mountains and jungles. The defectors speaking at the event each fled North Korea in search of different kinds of freedom, Song said.

“I just wanted to go to South Korea to worship God to my heart’s content. To praise without any restrictions. To freely believe without having to risk my life,” said Kyung in a video on the organization's website.

Often, Americans don’t understand how cruel the North Korean regime is, Song told CP. One of the event highlights will be a short film depicting the North Korean communist regime's continued oppression of its people.

“The never before seen footage we’re showing tonight is a video focused around the repression of the Korean government and the extreme brutality of the North Korean government,” she said. “North Korea is a difficult place to understand because it’s very extreme. This piece is an alternative to help us to understand what repression and brutality is like for North Korean people.”

Song advised parents not to show the 3-minute clip to children younger than 13.

Thus far, the online event has raised over $400,000 to help North Korean defectors make the journey. Song said she hopes the event can raise up to $1 million. Liberty in North Korea will use the money to help North Koreans travel secret routes. It costs about $3,000 to help one North Korean defector make it from northern China to safety in Southeast Asia. Defectors within the group never have to pay back the money when they start new lives in South Korea.

“We have such an incredible global fundraising movement that we’ve invited people to open their own fundraising pages,” Song said.

People can donate on Liberty in North Korea’s website, on the event page or to individual or group fundraisers.

“We hope to do a big virtual event like this every year,” said Song.

Although dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging, Song said working with North Korean defectors keeps her grateful.

“Doing this work is a constant reminder to be grateful for my freedom, for doing this work, that we live where we do and that it’s such a different experience than what many people around the world experience.”

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