The Bitcoin community’s political leanings are no secret: some of us lean to the left or to the right, but practically all of us lean libertarian. Regular readers probably agree that personal autonomy needs to be respected, and believe that cryptocurrency will help ensure that.
We’ve carried this message to some of the world’s poorest regions, and to volatile dictatorships like Russia, China, and even the United States. All jokes aside, few Bitcoin evangelists have risked their physical safety in the line of duty. The same can probably not be said about Liberty in North Korea.
For approximately every $3,000 USD (or equivalent), one liberty-seeking North Korean gets to start a new life abroad. A safe route to freedom is secured, northwest into China, then down to southeast Asia where they reach safe asylum. Resettled in South Korea or elsewhere, they are given proper food, education, and employment opportunities for the future.
These charitable acts are punishable with fines in China, and with far worse for the refugee in North Korea. Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) does it, anyway, and is as close as you can get to fighting for freedom with official legal sanctions. It’s every young male libertarian’s dream-charity.
It should come as no surprise, then, that they’re starting to experiment with Bitcoin. I’d been bothering them about it for a couple years, but it wasn’t until recently that they started to take it more seriously. We can see why.
Bitcoin is a currency without borders, and it’s a border that LiNK is trying to erode. To pay the “fees” for providing this service, they need to be able to get money in restrictive Asian countries like China. Such countries will not be overly accommodating of LiNK’s banking needs, and tend to monitor the flow of money across state lines.
Sending bitcoins to be converted to cash locally could be a viable solution to this problem. To the extent that Bitcoin transactions can be made anonymous, they could also be a blessing to third parties who might face retribution. Pseudonymity is a double-edged sword, but we might as well wield it.
Liberty in North Korea is (to my knowledge) nowhere close to implementing these ideas. Bitcoin’s not integrated with their central accounting system, nor displayed on their website. They’re off to a good start, however, and can now accept Bitcoin donations via Coinbase–please check out their payment page, or send bitcoins directly to their wallet address at 1CmAr63TAKmxSx1BRGimGNyStA65vHoKPT.
They’re coming to visit the Bitcoin community in Vancouver, and will give a presentation at Decentral to teach us about the North Korean crises. We’ll also be teaching them all about cryptocurrency, and hopefully sell them on its utility. If we’re lucky, we might even get to send a recorded message into the Hermit Kingdom.
Vancouver’s first food or drink venue to accept Bitcoin–India Gate Restaurant and Bar–will also be giving 30% of all sales to the non-profit, and hosting a celebratory charity dinner. LiNK’s rescue team travels the world, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities to cooperate with the Bitcoin community again. Let’s make it worth their time.