Mirae, Charitable Giving in North Korea
2003 | Case No. SI33
For nearly fifty years, the Korean peninsula has been separated by a band, 2½ miles wide, which has divided the land into North and South. Heavily armed on both sides, the Demilitarized Zone itself has become an environmental haven. Since the end of the Korean War, this land has been virtually untouched by humans. Surrounded by tanks and electrified fences, cranes, egrets and bears roam free. A three-hour drive to the south is Seoul, one of Asia’s most important cities. With 20 million residents, Seoul is the home of South Korea’s government, largest businesses and thought leaders. There, a small, grass-roots group of affluent, well-connected, self-described “housewives” struggle with some of the key issues of South Korea’s future. Their group is called Mirae, meaning “future” in Korean. They work to prepare for what almost all South Koreans see as the inevitable reunification of North and South. As they raise and use funds, their challenges are myriad: how to best create a non-profit in a society that has traditionally thought of charity as an intra-family issue, whether they should limit their giving to people in their own country, and how to support the North Korean people while not supporting the oppressive North Korean government.
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