Fifteen Year Anniversary: An Interview with Mike Kim

- This post was written by Dan Chung, Executive Director of Crossing Borders. 

We had been meeting for a couple of years without a name in the early 2000s to work toward a target we didn’t quite see. It was a group of college friends who had a passion to help North Koreans. Mike Kim (author of the book, “Escaping North Korea” and co-founder of Crossing Borders) and I sat at a bookstore on a cold Chicago morning in 2003 tossing names around. Nothing stuck.

Then, as luck would have it, one of us realized where we were meeting. Yes, it was a Borders bookstore. The word ‘borders’ was and is an essential part of our work. North Korean refugees were crossing a border into China for help and we were crossing many other borders to help. Crossing Borders. It felt right.

Five years ago on our 10-year anniversary, this memory did not seem so far away. Today it does. First of all, Borders Bookstores is now a thing of the past. Secondly, after getting married, having children and being a part of too many stories to recount, 2003 does seem like a long time ago.

One January 1, 2018, Crossing Borders celebrated our 15th anniversary. Over the years we have helped about 1,000 North Korean refugees and orphans with vital resources and protections. As a part of the original team, I can say without hesitation that we are still pursuing this work with the same vitality and excitement as when we first started. The only difference is that we’re a lot wiser now.

I wish I could peel back the curtain on all of it and share with you what an incredible ride it has been. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to. For now, I want to share a conversation I had with Mike Kim as we reminisced about the past 15 years.

We thank God for all the memories and for all the people who have helped in big and small ways. You are always near our hearts.