Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

Webinar Explores ‘People to People’ Approach to North Korea

Norway-2021-07-01-Webinar Explores ‘People’ Approach to North Korea

Oslo, Norway—Two representatives of humanitarian projects spoke about their experiences working to help North Koreans.

UPF organized a webinar on July 1, 2021, with the title “Korea—Two Nations, One People: Humanitarian Projects’ Contribution to Peace and Development.” Approximately 15 participants joined the online conference.

Our wish was to learn from the experiences of humanitarian projects in North Korea. The grass-roots or people-to-people perspective is most likely different from the political perspective.

The first speaker was Torben Henriksen, representing the Norwegian Red Cross. He has visited North Korea more than 30 times. He explained about the Red Cross engagement and the various projects that have been done since 1995.

Red Cross chapters in North and South Korea have cooperated on several occasions, he said. They had a tree planting project for a couple of years; held dialogues regularly, even during difficult times; and organized family reunions more than 20 times. In addition, North Koreans are invited to visit both Norway and other nations regularly.

Mr. Henriksen believes that all these meetings and exchanges contribute to building friendship between the North Koreans and the outside world. He also thinks that the learning experiences that North Koreans receive abroad will be beneficial in the development of their own country.

The second speaker was Roald Føreland from the Christian organization Evangelical Orient-mission.  This organization cooperates with an American group called Christian Friends of Korea. Together they have organized a series of agricultural programs, such as installing green hoses and building water pumps.  All the projects are done in a very friendly cooperation with North Korean partners.

Steinar Murud of UPF-Norway spoke about the background for UPF’s interest and involvement in Korea, and he gave an introduction to Think Tank 2022, a UPF project. UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon established the global think tank in May 2021 to bring together leaders in many fields to work for Korean reunification.

Mr. Murud said that humanitarian projects are certainly of great help to people in need. But in addition they build warm relationships between those who are involved. Even representatives from nations that are political enemies can work well together on the ground.

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