Sunday, December 25, 2011

a Christmas Eve balloon launch...

So Christmas Eve I awoke  at 7am, and was up in Itaewon by 9am to board a bus head off to the DMZ, which is as close as civilians can go towards North Korea.  I went with some friends who told of this opportunity with North Korea Peace Organization, a non-political, non-religious organization that launches balloons with socks into N Korea every month.  While the organization is young, Mr. Lee, a North Korea defector, has been launching balloons into N Korea every month for the last 5 years, since was able to escape N Korea, at great risk to himself (he carried poison with him in case he was caught by N Korea or China).  Anyways, we went to launch socks into N Korea, as we could seen about 100 socks on each balloon, and N Koreans can use these socks on their black market to buy up to 1 months worth of food for a family.  Also, Mr. Lee told us about how many people are missing toes, feet, and legs due to frost bite from a lack of socks in the winter.  Even the well kept military has people missing socks.  Instead of messages of propaganda, the organization just had a simple message, that  said we the world community has not forgotten about North Koreans, and that the world loves them.  Live long until unification (with the South).  The wanted a simple message because the organization would like to one day be allowed to directly hand out food in North Korea, and sending over any kind of anti-N Korea leaflets would immediately make it impossible for them to ever reach this goal.

Although it was freezing, we were able to launch 4 balloons.  There was a lot of media there, and the organization was excited to be getting the message out.  AP, Reuters, and press from 6 other countries were there.  I was just really happy to be doing something very unique yet very helpful during Christmas time.  While it wasn't too dangerous, we did have to do it behind a hill from the DMZ line, as N Korea has publicly said they will fire artillery onto anyone they see launching balloons.. but anyways, here's a video!  Mind you, I'm freezing cold and tired, so keep in mind with my comments...


I'll add more photos later, but I have to get to work. Enjoy the video, and Merry Christmas to all!
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