Since IRI cannot work in closed North Korea, its work focuses on building the intellectual, social, and emotional competencies of North Korea’s youth defectors to determine priority issues and develop potential future leaders. IRI operates on the premise that participating in South Korea’s vibrant political and civic life is the best preparation for serving as leaders of tomorrow’s democratic North or a unified Korea.

Korea DMZ

To support young democratic leaders with the necessary skills to promote North Korean human rights, IRI Korea provides skills training and experiential learning opportunities to North Korean defectors and South Korean youth. Local youth groups serve as IRI Korea’s primary collaborators in developing and running awareness raising campaigns on North Korean human rights in South Korea. 

IRI Korea provides training on topics ranging from social media outreach to research and policy writing to public speaking.  These workshops equip young people with the skills they need to lead awareness campaigns.  This outreach includes social media campaigns highlighting North Korean human rights violations and concrete steps for civic engagement. IRI’s work includes a series of townhalls on university campuses on international human rights, and seed grants for student groups to use music, comedy nights, and art exhibitions to raise attention about the plight of the North Korean people.

IRI Korea is currently working on its fourth set of youth empowerment programs. In the first three iterations IRI provided opportunities for Korean youth to create small grant projects to shed light on and advocate for North Korean human rights.

Beyond our work with Korean youth, IRI Korea supports the North Korean defector civic community seeking to improve access to information in North Korea. For more information on this project, reach out to korea@iri.org.

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