Yvonne Bormann , who was born in South Korea but adopted by a German family soon thereafter, is currently an actress and at the forefront of activism for human rights in North Korea with the Berlin-based organization, "Saram," which strives to improve the human rights of North Korean residents. Unification Media Group sat down with Bormann to discover how someone who grew up some 8,000km from the Korean Peninsula-- in a starkly different culture--ended up devoting her life to the betterment of human rights in North Korea.
“A few friends introduced me to the issue one day and I was completely appalled. After realizing horrors of the situation, I felt an overwhelmingly responsibility to do something to improve the human rights situation in North Korea. This is how a group of friends and I resolved to build an organization dedicated to this cause," she explained.
And so the organization was born. The group carefully selected the organization’s title, “Saram,” literally “person,” to convey the reason behind the its every effort: the North Korean people. Despite its nascent status as an organization, having only been in operation for approximately three years, “Saram” has already emerged as a major force in the field, driving leading research on the North Korean human rights crisis and collaborating with a multitude of political entities to raise awareness for the cause.
The group prides itself on integrating members from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors. “Although we all come from different backgrounds and fields of work, we are all gathered together with the goal of improving the North Korean human rights situation," Bormann said.
While "Saram" only recently gained recognition from the German government as an official organization, its work among the broader community has been respected for far longer, particularly for its unwavering dedication to its clearly defined goal of helping the North Korean people. Bormann added that they are increasing their efforts to promulgate this message as far as possible, casting a wide and deep net to foster more awareness for the cause. The group is constantly brainstorming new initiatives, which recently include educating defectors in China and other countries--with special focus on those in Europe--on the systematic human rights infringements rife within the North.
"Saram" hopes to use these advocacy activities will continue to see its network expand to encompass as many groups and activists as possible. To this end, the group teamed up earlier this week with the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK) to shed more light on these pressing matters at a North Korean human rights event in Berlin.
“I hope that many more people in European countries will become more aware of the current North Korean human rights situation. I am dedicated to obtaining the most direct information possible to enlighten people across Europe about the reality of the human rights situation in North Korea," Bormann stated, explaining the trajectory she envisions for the organization's future.
On her impressions of Korea, her recent trip being her first since leaving shortly after her birth, she said, “I was so overwhelmed by the large number of people in Seoul, but it was wonderful to meet so many kind souls and discover how much I love Korean cuisine!”
She asserted that this shared ancestry with the North Korean people further fuels her desire to help them; Bormann, like all in the field, anxiously awaits the era of unification, wherein she dreams of “a North Korea where the residents are able to live freely and fearlessly without political prison camps.”