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Help send journalists to the China-NK border region - and tell us what you want them to investigate
Help send journalists to the China-NK border region - and tell us what you want them to investigate
462 backers pledged $26,631 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$26,631

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Stretch Goal: Help fund the hiring of two new North Korean defector writers!

Help us reach our stretch goal of $26,000 and we'll hire two brand new Ask a North Korean writers, using the extra Kickstarter funds to cover their weekly columns for an entire year!

"Ask a North Korean" is the section of NK News which allows readers to send in questions for our North Korean defector colleagues to respond to, in column format.

Currently, the articles are paywalled -- but we'd love to make them open access for all our readers. Prior to our paywall, the "Ask a North Korean" column was one of the most popular sections of the website, and we'd love to make it open-access again. 

For every $1,000 we raise towards the stretch goal, we'll be able to fund five open-access columns. Help us increase the outreach of our North Korean defector colleagues by donating today!

Original goal: North Korea borderlands reporting project - $16,000

Working along the Chinese – North Korea border in 2013, I witnessed first hand how divergent the stories on the ground were from what I was seeing on the news at the time. 

With my visit coming following reports of a border lockdown and some of the worst inter­-Korean tensions in decades, the realities of what is actually an extremely porous border and life for thousands of ordinary North Koreans working in the area stood out. 

Standing on an abandoned bridge just feet from North Korean territory, I felt millions of miles from the increasingly sensationalized Google news feeds which provide the majority of what people think they know about North Korea today. 

Although I was only there for a week, I realized that – like in other places where North Koreans can be found in significant numbers – there were hundreds of stories waiting to be uncovered. Stories that might influence the way we think about North Korea in more ways than meet the eye. 

Today our specialist news site NK News tries to cover as much unique material as we can on North Korea every day, but working from resources generated through a modest subscription system, there are real limitations on the amount of on­-the­-ground reporting we’re able to do in places like the China – DPRK border area. 

That’s why today we’re asking for your help. With $16,000 of extra resources this year we’ll send two journalists for extended periods to China. 

And if we can raise more, we’ll send them to countries in Africa and the Middle East where we know we can find important stories involving North Korea. From finding out why North Koreans continue to leave the country, to revealing the deals Pyongyang’s diplomats are making overseas, your help will let us tell these stories in innovative ways and with intimate detail. Help give us the chance.

With leads in place for some groundbreaking stories, we’re almost there. And in return for your assistance, we've some great rewards to offer:

Pictures used in campaign all by Eric Lafforgue 

Risks and challenges

The reporters we'll send to the China-DPRK border will be taking several precautions to ensure their safety while on assignment. However, due to the region being an especially sensitive area, it is impossible to guarantee the overall success of the project.

While a responsible approach to the assignment means situations like the 2009 imprisonment of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling in North Korea can hopefully be avoided, arbitrary detention on the Chinese side – most likely for short periods of time – cannot be discounted.

Nor can the potential expulsion of our journalists mid-assignment from PRC territory.

In the event our reporters are expelled early into the assignment and sufficient budget remains, we will reassign them to projects in the Middle East or Africa.

However, in the event an expulsion takes place mid-assignment, it is possible that only limited reporting outcomes will be assured from the project.

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  1. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Thank you! In return for your assistance, pick one of two specially made ebooks, reserved exclusively for Kickstarter donors like yourself.

    "Daily Life in North Korea" by Dr. Andrei Lankov is a compilation of twelve essays by the world's leading specialist on all things DPRK. Through these essays, find out what it's like to live inside the world's most secretive state.

    "Recipes of North Korea" presents twelve popular and easy-to-make recipes from right across the DPRK. Three defectors - and one South Korean chef - will guide you through the recipes with photos and instructions especially adapted for Western kitchens.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Big projects always require lots of caffeine to get them off the ground, more so when involving North Korea. To say thank you for your help, we’ll send you a limited edition coffee cup bearing the design of Pyongyang’s infamous “Unha-3” rocket: the one which in 2012 made North Korea the tenth country in the world to successfully put a satellite into space.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    $35 will go a long way into helping us investigate on-the-ground story leads. To say thank you, choose one of our custom designed t-shirts and celebrate North Korean beer, the challenge of the Pyongyang Marathon, or the technical prowess of the Unha-3 rocket system (if that’s your thing). T-shirts made with extra-high quality cotton, including screen-printed artwork for long-term durability.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Want to help us do some great reporting but can't decide if you want a t-shirt OR a coffee mug? Then this reward is for you.

    Select any t-shirt AND get a Unha-3 rocket coffee cup.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    $99 will really help us investigate the border region. To say thank you, choose THREE of our custom designed t-shirts and celebrate North Korean beer, the challenge of the Pyongyang Marathon, or the technical prowess of the Unha-3 rocket system (if that’s your thing). T-shirts made with extra-high quality cotton, including screen-printed artwork for long-term durability.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Get one year of access to the NK News website, any t-shirt of your choice, a coffee mug, and participate in a special Google Hangout series where you can suggest article and topic ideas to NK News editors. We’ll be eternally grateful!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Bring Eric Lafforgue's stunning North Korea photography, used extensively on NK News, to your home. Choose any image from his extensive North Korea library and we'll send you a high quality, professional 12” X 8” digital print, signed by Eric himself from his studio in France.

    You’ll also get a one year subscription to the NK News website and the opportunity to participate in a special Google Hangout series where you can suggest article and topic ideas to NK News editors.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Directly influence what we’re doing. Today. You’ll get the opportunity to have Dr. Andrei Lankov or one of our defector writers write a column on any subject of your choice.

    Also, you’ll get special invites to our exclusive annual North Korea watchers dinner events where you’ll get the chance to meet experts and specialists up-close, a year’s access to the site, any three t-shirts of your choice, both ebooks, and a free coffee cup!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Get one year's access to NK News Pro (normally $999), complete with:

    Signed Eric Lafforgue print of North Korea, special invites to our exclusive annual North Korea watchers dinner events where you’ll meet experts and specialists up-close, any three t-shirts of your choice, free coffee cup, and two ebooks.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Go for dinner with NK News Columnist Dr. Andrei Lankov and NK News Director Chad O'Carroll in either Washington DC or Seoul and discuss North Korea in person.

    Also get a signed Eric Lafforgue print of North Korea, special invites to our exclusive annual North Korea watchers dinner events where you’ll get meet experts and editors up-close, a year’s Pro access to the site, any three t-shirts of your choice, and a free coffee cup!

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    NK News Founder Chad O'Carroll, who led the North Korea Travel project, will closely consult with you to build a highly customized one week tour of the country, with the aim of giving you the clearest possible insight into real life in North Korea. Furthermore, Dr. Andrei Lankov and O’Carroll will fly to Beijing prior to your trip to conduct a private day and evening-long briefing with you about the country, advising you what to look out for and answering questions.

    Reward level includes all tour fees, travel, hotels, and meals for one passenger. Additional tourists may join the week long visit at a fee of $2300 per person.

    Main donor will also get a signed Eric Lafforgue print of North Korea, special invites to our exclusive annual North Korea watchers dinner events where you’ll get the chance to meet experts and editors up-close, a year’s Pro access to the site, any three t-shirts of your choice, ebooks, and a free coffee cup!

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Funding period

- (29 days)