Traveling to change stereotypes, Liberty in North Korea nomad tells his story

Lina Pyon
Staff Writer
@linalinaapril

Great Plains nomad Richie Elmore travels around visiting high schools, businesses and more presenting information about what LiNK does. LiNK, or Liberty in North Korea, is a nonprofit organization that focuses on resettling and helping North Koreans found in neighboring Asian countries.

Richie Elmore, one of the Nomads for the Liberty in North Korea, shares information about the club and its mission on Dec.4 at Southwestern Korean Baptist Church. The Nomads travel to schools, churches and community centers across North America to tell people about the realities of North Korea and encourage them to take actions by joining the organization and spreading awareness. Photo by Ayoung Jo.
Richie Elmore, one of the Nomads for the Liberty in North Korea, shares information about the club and its mission on Dec.4 at Southwestern Korean Baptist Church. The Nomads travel to schools, churches and community centers across North America to tell people about the realities of North Korea and encourage them to take actions by joining the organization and spreading awareness. Photo by Ayoung Jo.

Elmore, in the past few years, got involved through nomads, just as he is now, who visited his university, making his work all the more important. The Sidekick was able to have a Q&A with him at a LiNK club meeting on Dec. 4 where the club members got to meet and spend some time with the nomads.

 

What do you hope to achieve every time you visit or talk to another group of people?

It’s definitely hard to see tangible results, but you really have to focus on quality over quantity. I would rather get one person excited about this issue and see hope within the North Korean people rather than get a lot of people to donate. If we leave an event getting some people excited and showing people there is potential within the North Korean people, then we’d consider it a success.

 

How has this experience of traveling changed you?

We’ve stayed with so many gracious and giving people, people that we’ve never met. And it was such an interesting feeling: being able to walk into someone’s house and feel at home because they were just so excited that young people were getting involved in issues.

 

How has meeting new people affected you?

Personally, it has restored my faith in humanity, not that it was ever gone. Meeting so many people across the country that come from different backgrounds and different experiences are able to come together and work for something greater than themselves is really beautiful.

 

Why did you choose to do this with your life?

I got my degree in East Asian studies and in high school I had a lot of Korean friends and they introduced me to South Korean culture, but North Korea was always a kind of a mystery. And I came across this documentary where this eye doctor went into North Korea and performed cataracts surgery on elderly North Korean people and rather than thanking the doctor who performed the surgery they thanked the leaders, the regime, and I just wanted to understand this better. So I started researching more but it always seemed like hopeless cause, but nomads came to my university last year and did a presentation like this, where you get to travel and grow a lot personally and you get to meet people all over the country that are passionate and share this passion for an issue like this.

 

What advice do you have for LiNK club members in high school that are interested in the actual LiNK program?

There’s a lot of power in grassroot movements. LiNK is really a collective energy and effort of people all over ther world working towards something. And a lot of the people that I met and talked with can become discouraged because they can’t see any effects to what they’re doing but, just remain hopeful.

 

What do you do to remain hopeful?

You just have to have faith in what you’re doing and believe in the cause that you’re working towards. For example, on Facebook it’s easy to share articles that are just mass circulated but, who really reads those articles? But if I were to have a conversation, a one on one conversation, with one of my friends about what’s happening in North Korea, that’s more personable and they would be more receptive to that message. So don’t worry about getting a whole bunch people to over night become passionate about North Korean people, but rather focus on people who want to get interested and tell them, that North Korea is not a hopeless cause.