Author and activist talks about North Korea
On October 21, political activist, consultant and author, Mike Kim, spoke to the Suffield community about his journey to help North Koreans escape the regime under former Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il. Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Mike graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999. He went on to receive his MBA from Georgetown University before becoming a financial planner.
As a Korean-American, he developed a strong desire to travel to China so he decided to book a one-way ticket and arrived on New Year's Day in 2003. He knew very little about the political turmoil in North Korea, the epidemic of human trafficking, or the fact that it is illegal to help North Koreans in China. However once there, Mike knew he had to become involved, telling Suffield students, "When the 'What if...' voice reaches a certain threshold, you have to act on it." Mike proceeded to live an undercover life in China, helping North Korean refugees escape via a 6000-mile "underground railroad" by night. (By day, Mike—who changed his name to protect his identity—studied as a tae kwon do student.)
In keeping with this year's school theme of identity, Mike's talk explained how his calling helped people risk everything for freedom. "Serving others is when you find yourself the most," he said.
His three life lessons are:
1) It begins with passion.
2) Pursuing your passion leads to fulfillment.
3) Passion + knowledge + experiences + skills = influence.
Mike's book, Escaping North Korea, is currently being made into a movie.