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2014-01-21 Swiss, free market and NK issues overlap


Yesterday was another one of those funny interesting days in my life. I was so busy with the usual Monday morning catching up before rushing to a noon meeting with Johanna Poole. She is another dynamite unsung heroine for the cause of NK human rights.

* * *

* Then my next appointment showed up--Henrique Schneider, chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises. We were scheduled to talk about the economy in Switzerland to get ready for a discussion I would be moderating a bit later. He has been to North Korea to deliver lectures on economics, but before yesterday, he had only focused on economic issues when it came to North Korea. Well! Johanna and I fixed that! I got him to commit to raise at least $2,500 to help rescue at least one refugee from North Korea or to support the adjustment of a North Korean refugee here.

[As I have previously written, I am not interested in going to North Korea, I'd prefer to spend time and resources on helping people escape or adjust.]

* After that discussion, Henri and I caught up on some things. We have known each other for about three years, but we have mostly emailed. It was a delightful conversation, he had more questions about human rights issue in North Korea and about North Koreans who successfully escape.

* * *

* I then moderated a Freedom Factory Co. Ltd. discussion at which Henri gave a one-hour lecture to several heirs of SMEs in Korea. He discussed the situation in Switzerland with comparisons to Korea. There are some featured speakers who have a prepared presentation that they must get through. And then there are speakers who don't mind being interrupted, welcome questions and challenges. I sensed that with Henri, confirmed it, so that made the session more lively because we peppered him with questions for almost two hours. He said several things about Switzerland that shocked the folks there, but then when he learned about some of Korea's policies, he was in utter disbelief.

* * *

* We then wrapped up the day with another speech by Henri, this time to several professors who teach at Samsung. They were a particularly active group, it was useless for me to try to moderate them. They were as animated as six-year old kids at a candy buffet. So we had another great session, with everyone leaving the session more educated than when they arrived.

Henri comes to Korea about three or four times a year, so we will be holding a larger session for him next time around. I will be sure to remind him about supporting a North Korean refugee's escape or adjustment.

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