Second Annual THiNK Benefit Concert Organized to Raise Awareness About Problems in North Korea
By Sonum Dixit '13, News Section Editor
The second annual Towards Humanitarianism in North Korea (THiNK) Benefit Concert took place on April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Friedmann Room of Keefe Campus Center with an emphasis on raising awareness about humanitarian problems in North Korea. It raised $242 through the event.

“We didn’t just want to make this a food event where people just come for the food and concert and don’t have any idea what the event is for or where their donation is going to,” said President Haneui Bae ’13. “So we decided to have a posterboard there, explaining the issues in North Korea and a bunch of black and white photos to display and a stack of pamphlets. [In addition], before we started the concert, we showed a clip called Life in North Korea. It was a well-made video introducing the situation in North Korea for an audience that does not know much about North Korea or is new to the issues of North Korea.”

Before Group of Four’s jazz performance, another clip was shown about a North Korean refugee named Joseph who is now re-settled in California.

Five hundred notebooks were purchased from OfficeMax with funds given by the Campus Center. Bae, along with John Cho ’13, Michael Stein ’12, Sabrina Song ’13, Candice Kim ’13, Daniel Hsu ’13, Esther Lam ’13 and Julia Kim ’13 filled the notebooks with information about North Korean refugees and a description of scenes from documentaries “Crossing” and “Inside North Korea.”

“[We could have given] out pamphlets but people always throw them away, so we decided to make something that is more long-term,” said Bae. “Something they will keep looking at.”

A capella groups Bluestockings, Terras Irradient (TI), Gospel Choir, DQ, the Group of Four jazz combo (Cho, guitarist/bassist Zac Oppenheimer, and pianist Dave Wadden ’10) and Ophelia Hu ’12 performed.

Hu, a member of TI, prepared her own performance, in which she read a story and wrote a song about a North Korean boy. “She emailed [me] the morning of the concert if I’d like an extra performance she can sing,” said Bae. “So we prepared a piano and a mic for her and the song was so pretty and sad! Everybody in the room was touched, and she sang so well.”

Planning the concert was complicated because THiNK president, Jamie Oh ’11 is currently studying abroad in Australia and the remaining club members consisted of mainly freshmen. “We had no idea how to run a club on campus because we are all so new to Amherst life,” said Bae, who is the president for the spring semester, “and we had nobody to tell us exactly what kind of stuff THiNK did last year or years before or even how old THiNK was. So it was kind of like starting a new club on campus.”

THiNK already had $800 from the College, and “we got together each week in our meetings, with no idea how to use this money sitting [in] the bank waiting for us,” said Bae.

Also, there was some trouble obtaining the equipment needed for the concert at first. Projectors are not allowed to be stored in dorms, so Bae had to promise the Information Technology department that she would store it in the Asian Students Association office, where only a few students had access.

When asked how the proceeds would be utilized, Bae said, “All the money we raised goes to The Hundred Campaign, [which is] a campaign to rescue the North Korean refugees hiding in China. [THiNK] launched it last November, and its goal is to rescue 100 refugees. Last year it rescued 16, so this year it has to rescue 84 more and I think this February, it rescued eight more people.”

Although the event went smoothly, with no technical difficulties or food shortage, turnout was not as high as Bae had hoped. “There were only about 20-30 non-performers including our food servers,” she said. “We did everything we could, [like] what other groups normally do — table tents, fliers, big color posters that Jeong Eun Lee ’13 designed, Facebook groups and E-Digest.”

“We had no choice about the date; we reserved the room too late and it was one of the very few dates left,” said Bae. “Next year we’ll do the concert Friday night, and we’re also thinking about tabling in Val and we can give out free tickets just as an advertisement like Jamboree.”

Bae also noted that the table tents did not disclose which restaurants were catering because she felt that should not have been the focus of publicity. However, next year, she is planning on listing where the food is going to come from.

The food was catered from Gohyang, Fresh Side, Paradise of India, Wings Over Amherst and Antonio’s, and cheesecake and cookies were purchased from Big Y.

“I think it was pretty successful because we got to at least tell all the a capella groups there about North Korea,” said Bae. “It was our first attempt at such a big event and everything worked out nicely.”

Issue 24, Submitted 2010-04-28 03:11:08