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      Helping Hands Korea

      Of the founder of Helping Hands Korea, Tim Peters, TIME magazine writes:

      As part of his missionary work, Tim Peters became involved in human-rights issues, and was [thrown out of South Korea] for handing out leaflets that criticized the Seoul government. He returned to live in Seoul in the late '80s, and then for a third time in 1996. South Korea was by then a democratic, prosperous nation, "and for a time I wondered why the Lord had brought me back to this place," says Peters.

      But North Korea was in the midst of a horrific famine. "One night it just dawned on me, I wasn't here this time for South Korea, I was here for the North, to try to do the Lord's work and help people there. It couldn't have been any clearer."

      Since 1995, an estimated 2 million North Koreans, like this orphan boy pictured, have starved to death in North Korea. Another 300,000 North Koreans have fled to China to live illegally, risking their lives to flee the mass starvation and brutal oppression of Kim Jong Il's Stalinist North Korea regime.


      Peters formed Helping Hands Korea in 1996, and within just two years, as refugees tried to escape the famine, the beginnings of the Underground Railroad took shape.

      "We were overwhelmed," he says now. That's when the organization's mission became more focused: helping North Koreans in crisis, people who really needed help getting to freedom."
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      Helping Hands Korea launched its first endeavor to assist North Koreans by providing famine relief to the northeastern portion of the impoverished nation, particularly to schools and orphanages.

      From 1998, Helping Hands Korea diversified its assistance activities to North Korea by giving special emphasis to direct aid for North Korean refugees in China. (Famine in North Korea is estimated to have killed some 2 to 3 million of the nation's 24 million people.)

      Helping Hands Korea also supports a number of "secret orphanages" for North Korean children in China, providing shelter, food, clothing, and a rudimentary basic education as they hide from authorities.

      Up to 300,000 North Koreans have fled to China to live illegally, risking their lives to flee the mass starvation and brutal oppression of Kim Jong Il's Stalinist North Korea regime.

      In cases where no viable alternative exists, refugees in China are aided to safety along the Underground Railroad, making their way to surrounding countries with the option for eventual resettlement in a safer environment.

      [Click for full TIME Magazine article quoted above, "Long Walk to Freedom"]