LiNK is the Vassar chapter of the national organization Liberty in North Korea, which rescues North Korean refugees in China and provides them with resettlement assistance. and other resources
LiNK will host its annual concert and fundraiser on Friday, Feb. 13 in the Aula. The concert will feature performances from pianist Eric Yoon ’18, Sieu Nguyen ’17, Mariya Adulkaf ’15, Gileann Tan ’17, co-President Chris Yhun ‘16, Anne Kuo ‘16 and the Soiree club, and additional performances may involve spoken word or a cappella.
Co-president Ellis Kim ’16 stated, “What we do as an org on campus is raising awareness about what is going on in North Korea and then also fundraising.”
She continued, “Throughout the year, we do several events or partake in several events that go on to fundraise and then we send that money to the headquarters of LiNK in California because it takes about $3,000 to help a refugee resettle into South Korea or the U.S. So that’s our goal every year.”
Although Kim is from South Korea, she lacked awareness about LiNK and what they were trying to achieve in North Korea. She recalled, “I had no clue about what was happening in North Korea and I just felt like I should know.”
By joining LiNK, she was able to learn more about the organization and specifically about the situation in North Korea. “It’s not just that people don’t have freedom. There’s still concentration camps…and people being tortured, and they live in such dire conditions,” said Kim. Kim kept returning to LiNK when she realized that there was a way she could help.
Ian Clarke ’17, the newest member, spoke about his reasons for joining LiNK, “I like the organization because they show you exactly how your fundraising has a direct and tangible impact on the country and its citizens.”
Kevin Lee ’17 has been involved in LiNK during his two years at Vassar and commented on his experience, “There was a point in my freshman year when I decided that this is actually a really important cause and this is so under-discussed in not just Vassar, but the world. If I could just join the fight, join the struggle, I think I could find some worth inside it.”
Kim and Lee had similar reasons for joining LiNK and Kim added, “If more people knew about it, they would want to do something about it.”
Although the upcoming concert is not the organization’s biggest fundraiser, it is still a community-building and awareness-spreading event.
Kim commented on her experience with the concert, “I know [the concert has] been going on since I was a freshman. We have about ten performers, so we have had musicians and singers, comedians, just any sort of performer from campus. And what we do is we make food, and have the performers perform, and then we have time where we show a video about LiNK and what we do and how people can help.”
Lee further noted the performers that will be featured in the concert this Friday. He said, “Last year we did the same thing, a benefit concert…this year we have Vassar Soiree, which is another pre-org and they are creating cultural club for drums; they played for Kaleidescope.”
While LiNK members acknowledge the prolonged gestation of their org, they have ambitious goals for the future. Lee spoke on his hopes for the future of the organization, especially so that LiNK can host more events like this concert. Lee said, “LiNK has always had a low-key presence on campus and we’ve always had a slight membership because we have been a pre-org for so long.”
He continued, “Our main goal is just…building within the club itself, what we already have. I just want to really build that team aspect.”
Although the goals outlined by Lee are shared by all of the members of the club, Kim also stated more broad and general hopes for the future of LiNK. “I want more people to be aware of what’s going on in North Korea,” she said.
Clarke pointed out that fundraising is more difficult than spreading awareness, and he hopes that LiNK will augment its fundraising efforts in the future. He said, “As it’s grown its number of members, the fundraising has increased and then the more members there are the more events we can put on.” LiNK’s largest fundraising event is the annual dinner it hosts with the Culinary Institute of America. They also are involved with ASA’s Night Market event which takes place in the College Center every year. However, the concert will not only encourage fundraising, but will as well focus on the community-building focus of the organization.
Kim commented on this aspect of the event, “Because it’s not the biggest fundraising event we have each year, I see it as more of a get-together and awareness event. Because people who are not involved in LiNK–the performers themselves and the audience members who come see them, get to learn more about it through the event.”