Christian Friends of Korea celebrates work in North Korea

From staff reports

Christian Friends of Korea, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Black Mountain, celebrated 20 years of humanitarian service in North Korea with an open house Oct. 18.

The celebration was held at the organization’s new shipping center at 129 Center Ave., in Black Mountain, which provides warehouse space, staging and shipping support for gifts-in-kind and technical projects that CFK completes in North Korea.

The open house and anniversary celebration began about 3 p.m. and was followed by a program and dedication ceremony at 4 p.m. More than 150 people attended, including locals, but also people from as far away as Norway, Connecticut, Tennessee, Washington D.C., Charlotte, Raleigh and Boone. Representatives from Sen. Tom Tillis and U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry also participated.

Event guests had the opportunity to tour the office and glimpse some of the work CFK does in North Korea. Rows of tables stood covered with Korean dishes provided by several Asheville Korean church congregations; Red Radish added delicious southern fare to the event.

During the program, CFK board and staff members, previous and current trip participants, partners, volunteers and supporters gathered in the shipping center to reflect on the last 20 years. There were several presentations about the major CFK projects that include medical aid and relief, greenhouses, renovations, water well drilling, solar/water distributions systems.

Asheville Korean Baptist Church and Korean language school students performed several choral arrangements, and the program closed with a video capturing the last 20 years of CFK’s work.

Christian Friends of Korea makes regular visits to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to provide a wide range of humanitarian assistance to patients who suffer from tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and other diseases.

Nearly 200 volunteers from Black Mountain and elsewhere in the U.S. and world, have participated in more than 70 technical and confirming visits to North Korea since 1995.

CFK teams visit North Korea at least four times each year, generally travel 1,500-2,000 kilometers within the country during each visit, and/or complete major projects done in partnership with local North Koreans.

CFK’s work grew out of Dr. Billy Graham’s visits to DPRK in 1992 and 1994 and more than a century of Protestant missionary work on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea has suffered from successive natural disasters since the mid 1990s and the United Nations reports that more than 70 percent of the population is chronically food insecure.

In the last 20 years, CFK has delivered more than $80 million US in aid, including food, medicine, medical help, as well as lab equipment, blankets, renovation materials, greenhouses, small tractors, technical training, water well drilling, solar/water distribution systems and other relief goods.

Since 2009, CFK has partnered with Stanford University School of Medicine and other professionals to establish the DPRK’s National TB Reference Laboratory – the first laboratory of its kind in the country.

In 2008-09, CFK was one of five USNGO’s overseeing a USAID-sponsored emergency food aid program that impacted the lives of more than 900,000 vulnerable children, elderly and pregnant/nursing women. CFK’s work is expanding in 2016 to support life-giving therapy to sufferers of chronic hepatitis B.