RYAN LIPPERT WRITES – How is it that a North Korean refugee, who just five years ago did not know what the Internet was, is now learning how to code? Thanks to a new partnership between Coding Dojo and Link (Liberty in North Korea), there is renewed hope that North Korean refugees will get the help they need to get by in the outside world, where familiarity with technology is taken for granted. Some also hope that they will use their newfound skills to help others escape.

In today’s world, we assume that everyone knows what the Internet is, since we use it everyday. Unfortunately, however, due to isolation and extensive government control over information, some North Koreans have never even heard of the Internet. Because of this, it’s difficult imagining most refugees easily adapting into a society heavily dependent on things such as tablets or smartphones.

This year, programming school Coding Dojo started offering a generous scholarship to “individuals who want to learn coding to impact the greater good, or to inspire significant change in their own lives.” They are currently working with Link, a nonprofit dedicated to helping North Korean defectors resettle in other countries.

Through this partnership, the scholarships help refugees find employment in the technology industry, where they can use their talents to help alleviate the plight of those still living in North Korea. In turn, Link helps create a network of tech-savvy people who may wish to help fellow refugees.

One of Coding Dojo’s scholarships has already been given to a North Korean refugee who fled the country in 2010. Though he had never heard of the Internet until after he escaped, he has already made great progress in adapting to a world where familiarity with the Internet is basically a necessity. Hopefully, the partnership between Coding Dojo and Link will continue to help North Korean refugees adapt to life in their new homes.

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