Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SIWA hosts meeting with NK defector

Members of the Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) pose after the September Network Meeting at Restaurant Parlour in Itaewon.
/ Korea Times photo by John Redmond

By John Redmond

The Seoul International Women’s Association (SIWA) will host a special October Coffee Morning featuring special guest speaker Kim Kwang-jin, a North Korean defector, at Conrad Seoul, Oct.16.

Acknowledging the 60th anniversary of the armistice between South and North Korea, Kim will share his personal story and answer questions in an interactive Q&A session focusing on his knowledge and personal experience of North Korea.

“As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice between South and North Korea, SIWA is grateful to Mr. Kim Kwang-jin for accepting the invitation to speak at our Coffee Morning. So, bring your curiosity and questions for an interactive session about one of the most mystifying countries in the world,” the group stated in a press release.

Since defecting to South Korea with his family in 2003, Kim has served as visiting scholar in the U.S. with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), has earned two masters degrees, and is working on a PhD.

In Seoul he currently works as a senior researcher at the Institute of National Security Strategy, is an advisor to the Ministry of Unification, and serves on various boards.

Before his defection from North Korea, he served as the Singapore representative of the Northeast Asia Bank; an agent of the Korea National Insurance Corporation managing accounts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He majored in English literature at Kim Il-sung University and taught English at Pyongyang Computer College.

Kim’s invaluable experience allows him to shed a powerful light into the darkest corners of the North Korean regime’s clandestine international financial operations.

His revelations have saved re-insurance companies tens of millions of dollars and brought an end to a crucial method the corrupt regime used to purloin from foreign sources funds used to sustain the internal oppression of its people while continuing the development of nuclear power capability.

He has published a number of papers and articles on the North Korean economy and the current transition of power in North Korea, and has been guest speaker at many distinguished international events.

SIWA is Seoul’s premier international women’s organization, consisting of women from more than 40 countries, including about 25 percent from Korea. For more than 50 years, SIWA has been a place where women from around the world can meet, find friends, learn about each other’s cultures, and improve the lives of those less fortunate in Korea.

One of the most important things SIWA does is to contribute to Korean society through its biggest fundraiser, the Diplomatic and Cultural Bazaar, and it has contributed more than 2 billion won ($1.7 million) to Korean charities over the years. SIWA also offers an extensive number of tours to cultural, artistic and recreational experiences.

Coffee Mornings are one of the core activities of SIWA, an occasion when all members come to enjoy topical lectures, panel discussions and special events over a cup of coffee or tea and snacks.

It is a chance to reconnect with other members, make new friends and share information. The event is organized by the Hospitality Chair to provide information about Korea, current affairs, culture and issues of interest to all.

The Coffee Morning is from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and costs 20,000 won for members and 25,000 won for non-members.

The meeting point is Conrad Seoul, Level 6 (Studios 8, 9 and 10).

To get there by public transport leave Yeouido Station at exit 3. Follow the underground passage, along the moving walkway, until you reach the IFC Entrance (L2). Walk to the escalators (located in front of the “8ight Seconds” store) and go up to L1. The entrance to Conrad Seoul is located between the Stradivarius and Bershka stores.

Parking is available for free and valid for 24 hours if you would like to enjoy the ICF Mall and surroundings afterwards. Follow the signs for Conrad Hotel and park in the Purple Zone. Remember to provide the last four digits of your car number plate when responding to the RSVP.

RSVP online at

For more information on Coffee Morning or to join the next Coffee Morning as a vendor or sponsor, please contact

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