The Internet Campaign to Help North Korean Flood Victims

April 29, 1998



Children, the elderly and the rest of North Koreans outside major cities continue to suffer from serious shortages of food, medicine and other essentials. There is little likelihood the situation will improve in the near future. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. I am satisfied, however, that this campaign to attract world attention and bring action to the plight in North Korea has succeeded. So we will now take a back seat. In 1995 when the worst flood in North Korea's history in the past century devastated its farmland, made a half a million people homeless and threatened the nation's food supply, we opened this Home Page to attract world attention and began collecting donations which we used to purchase and personally distribute food and clothing there. Indirectly we hope we helped to move larger organizations and nations to also open their hearts to the plea for help. In the early days following this disaster all but a few countries in Europe ignored the suffering there--simply because North Korea was not a very popular country. The U.S. only provided a token donation of $25,000; Japan sent a shipful or two of rice and then stopped while South Korea did the same. Later South Korea threatened to punish any citizen or organization which donated funds or goods to North Korea other than through their Red Cross which manipulated the donations with their political agenda. On our Home Page we berated the U.S. for its strict control of donations, including the Treasury Department's blocking of our U.S. bank account; we chided Japan for sitting on (and not donating) millions of tons of surplus rice which would never be consumed and was fated to rot, and we urged South Koreans to practice civil disobedience and answer the call for help from their starving brethren. This was done on the basis of a higher law, natural law, that inspired St. Thomas Aquinas, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King to march to their own music which eventually became everyone's music. I believe with the worldwide fast day and the massive aid now pouring into North Korea from all over--albeit through imperfect monitoring facilities--our own mission is accomplished. Although our own donation program was but a drop in the bucket, we succeeded in drawing attention, raising awarenesss and getting people to act. Last week we forwarded a donation of $500,000 in medical equipment from the Michigan-based Christian Association for Medical Missions to the Third Hospital in Pyongyang and the General Hospital in Huichon via the vessel Mangyongbong that left Niigata for Wonsan on April 22. We now await word it got there as we did not accompany the donation. We still have on hand some $20,000 in cash donations we had planned to use to purchase more rice and medical equipment but have decided instead to turn it over to a particular project which UNICEF has set up in North Korea to provide vegetable seeds and agricultural instruments for nurseries, kindergartens and orphanages to grow their own food. This will have a more beneficial long-term effect, to provide stable food supplies to children and avoid malnutrition, than continuing imports of food. We are satisfied this project will provide more value for the money we would otherwise use in distributing imported rice only part of which we could monitor. $15,000 will be sent by bank transfer this week to Mr. Runar Soerensen, the UNICEF representative in Pyongyang, and he will use this along with other funds for this project. He will monitor it and report to us, through this page on its use and provide photos. An exchange of recent correspondence with UNICEF officials appears elsewhere on this site. We will continue to accept contributions for North Korean relief and whenever a sum accumulates to $10,000 we will forward it to this UNICEF project in North Korea and keep you periodically informed about it on this page. This channel of contributions will enable donors to track their donations and see the result of their generosity which is rarely the case when one contributes to charity. The transparency may encourage some donors to channel their donations through this appeal. I personally will no longer visit North Korea to distribute food and goods, and will entrust UNICEF to use our donations for their good cause. Bernard Krisher Chairman Internet Appeal for North Korean Flood Victims