Students discuss North Korean persecution with film screening

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Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) showed the movie “The Crossing,” an emotional film on one North Korean family’s struggle under oppression, on Friday, Nov. 3. Roughly twenty people attended and discussed the screening while enjoying free ramen, courtesy of LiNK.

The student organization was originally planning to show the movie “Apostle” because of its focus on the oppression of Christians in North Korea but chose to show the other film. “The Crossing” still incorporated themes of Christian persecution while highlighting the struggle of refugees.

The film tells the story of a North Korean family with an ailing mother. In order to obtain medicine for her, her husband illegally crosses the Chinese border. A charity organization resettles him in South Korea, only for him to find out that his wife has succumbed to the disease and that his son is missing. He then tries to help his son flee to South Korea through smugglers. The father encounters Jesus along the way but struggles to accept Christ’s love in the midst of his own suffering.

LiNK said that the goal of the night was to shed light on the suffering that the people of North Korea face at the hands of their totalitarian government. However, the organization wanted to stress the oppression of the North Koreans rather than Kim Jong Un’s regime.

“[Our] main focus is people over politics,” stressed vice president Yeri Kim. “Our meetings are to pray for the Korean people.”

Kim became interested in North Korea after meeting refugees the summer after her first  year. The following school year, at International Worship Night, she felt compelled to help raise awareness.

Currently, Liberty in North Korea is not an independent student organization but a part of the Student Justice Coalition. LiNK is pursuing independent status. Calvin’s LiNK acts as a local branch of the Liberty in North Korea international organization.

This branch’s emphasis on faith makes them different than their parent organization, which is not religiously affiliated. Self-described as “Christ-focused,” members meet every other Wednesday to pray for the North Korean people and learn about how the regime cracks down on religion, especially Christianity.

President Jiho Jeong believed that the movie helped them to achieve their goal of awareness and reflection. She also became interested in the cause after meeting a North Korean refugee.

“In high school, there was this little North Korean girl who played a very difficult instrument very well,” she reflected. “She learned [how to play] in North Korea, so knowing how hard the training must have been broke my heart.”

English professor David Urban also attended with his two sons. He will be LiNK’s faculty sponsor should they be granted their own student organization. During the discussion following the movie, he commented on how being a father made the film “emotionally devastating” for him and how a lack of rights correlates with the persecution of Christianity.

“I have a big heart for countries where the government is closed to them,” Urban said. “I remember while living in China, there were North Korean exchange students, and they were kept separate from everybody else.”

As LiNK works to achieve independent student organization status, they plan to host more awareness and fundraising events in the future. According to Jeong, the LiNK members hope that their work will spread to Calvin and educate students on North Korean oppression.