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Upstander Speaker Series

Mike Kim: Human Trafficking Expert and Award-Winning Author

Thursday, November 17, 2016

North Korea is the least free country in the world with a repressive hereditary political leadership and one of the world’s worst human rights records. This has led to incredible suffering by its people. Before its borders with China were fortified in 2010 and 2011, tens of thousands of North Koreans escaped into China. If caught by Chinese authorities they are returned to North Korea where they are imprisoned or executed for treason. Females make up 70% of the refugees, and they are frequently trafficked as prostitutes or sold as brides. If returned to North Korea, many women who became pregnant while in China are required by their government to undergo abortions.

On New Year’s Day in 2003, Mike Kim gave up his financial planning business in Chicago, Illinois and booked a one-way ticket to China. Once there he found himself drawn to help North Korean refugees. While living near the China-North Korea border, Kim operated undercover as a North Korean taekwondo student training under two well-known masters from Pyongyang. From there he used a 6,000-mile underground railroad to lead many North Korean refugees and sex trafficking victims to safety in Southeast Asia.

His memoir, Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country, describes his harrowing experiences at the China-North Korean border. Kim also founded Crossing Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees. Crossing Borders organizers testified at a congressional hearing on the issue of counteracting human trafficking in China, and it regularly contributes to the U.S. State Department’s “Annual Trafficking in Persons Report”.

Crossing Borders provides medical care, food, shelter, and counseling to North Korean refugees. The organization also houses abandoned North Korean children in orphanages and provides extensive counseling and care. Crossing Borders works with refugees who live in fear that the police will find them and send them back to North Korea.

Kim’s fearless efforts to rescue those who are denied basic human rights demonstrates the behavior of an Upstander; he does not stand by while others suffer. This is why we honor Mike Kim as part of our 2016 Upstander Speaker Series.

The Upstander Speaker Series event will take place on Thursday, November 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, TX 75225. The VIP reception with Mike Kim begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available on $10 general Admission; FREE for members; $20 for VIP Members; $30 for non-members.

Sponsor: The Dallas Morning News

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