Changing the Narrative: Freedom From Violence and Freedom of Expression

The people of North Korea face an incredible number of human rights violations. The North Korean regime goes to great lengths in order to maintain control, stripping people of their power and potential through a system of indoctrination, sequestration, and repression. Isolated from the rest of the world, North Koreans are forbidden to listen to international radio, make international phone calls, or access the internet, all to protect the country’s propaganda and ideology. It is illegal for North Koreans to leave the country without the permission of the government, and those who are caught doing so can face severe consequences, including forced labor, torture, and life in prison. Millions of North Koreans currently face avoidable poverty and humanitarian challenges.

Joseph Kim, Jinhye Jo, Praise Joo, and Jihyun Park each survived abhorrent circumstances during their time in North Korea and have become staunch activists fighting to free their people. In this lesson, students will learn about each of these STTP Defenders and the work they have been doing since their escape to fight the abuses of the North Korean regime. Students will also gain a greater understanding of the human rights violations of the North Korean government, learning the impact that lack of access to information has on the people of North Korea.

Joseph Kim is a North Korean refugee who has known the horrors of living under authoritarian rule. He is dedicated to fighting for human dignity for all who are oppressed, in all parts of the world.

Jinhye Jo is a North Korean defector who was able to flourish once she was free. After a young life of tragic loss, she is dedicated to changing the narrative and making a difference for others.

Praise Joo is a North Korean defector of the Jangmadang Generation. Joo escaped oppression to speak out for liberty, with the hope of eventually bridging the gap between North and South.

Jihyun Park is a survivor, advocate, and mother of three. She helps refugees rebuild their lives and campaigns for the rights of all North Koreans to live without fear of torture and persecution.

Because all the activities involve independent or group research that can be done online, this lesson plan fits into either virtual or in-person classrooms, with opportunities for discussion and collaboration on Zoom or with classmates.