US State Dept. puts out call for North Korea projects

Balloons carrying propaganda material are launched from Paju, South Korea, towards North Korea on January 15, 2014. (HRF handout)

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) put out a call Tuesday for projects aimed at human rights and democracy in North Korea.

DRL will fund winning proposals with grants of up to $350,000 per organization and groups have until May 13, 2014, to complete and submit their proposals.

Proposals can cover a broad range of areas, but the DRL advised they should “include activities that support recommendations from the recently released report from the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea and/or DPRK’s Universal Periodic Review.”

These could include projects that increase awareness and advocacy for North Korean human rights, deal with getting information into or out of North Korea, strengthen the ability of non-Western organizations in North Korean human rights campaigns, raise awareness of democratic principles or help organizations that document human rights and labor abuses in the DPRK.

One of those areas, the flow of information in and out of the country, has been a recent focus of many groups.

What began with shortwave radio broadcasts has expanded to include DVDs of movies and TV dramas smuggled in from China and, most recently, the sending of DVDs and USB drives containing video and text content into North Korea by balloon.

DRL said it expects to award grants to qualifying projects in the third quarter of this year. Full details of the call for proposals and guidelines on submissions can be found on the State Dept. website.

Balloons carrying propaganda material are launched from Paju, South Korea, towards North Korea on January 15, 2014. (HRF handout)

Balloons carrying propaganda material are launched from Paju, South Korea, towards North Korea on January 15, 2014. (HRF handout)

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