Last Thursday, the Bedales community was fortunate enough to have a Global Awareness lunchtime lecture from Young-il Kim, a North Korean defector who founded an organisation called PSCORE (People for Successful COrean Reunification). Their mission is to promote the successful reunification of the Korean peninsula and to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. Young-il painted a picture of a regime that is highly oppressive, where the majority of the public do not have basic human rights, freedom or adequate nutrition. We were informed that despite there being food stores, these were often a front and the majority of the ‘food’ inside was fake – as shown in the recent film ‘The Interview.’ Young-il spoke of his own experiences in the army, where many of his friends starved to death, and of his efforts to escape North Korea. He finally achieved this by lying on the roof of a train, only inches from the overhead power lines, for over 16 hours. Then followed years of living in fear and uncertainty in China, until at last he could reach South Korea and gain asylum.
Young-il’s anecdotes were exceptionally engaging, chilling and in some cases alarming. Some students were lucky enough to have their questions about the circumstances in North Korea answered, and any who could stayed on when afternoon lessons started, reluctant to miss such a rare opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from such a secretive country.
We all wished Young-il and PSCORE luck as they took their case to Geneva this week, and the UK Parliament next week.
By Godelieve de Bree, Block 5
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.