North Korea and its people have suffered under the brutal communist regime of the Kim family for over 70 years. It’s one of the poorest places in the world, and the difference between North and South Korea is stark. South Korea has grown prosperous as North Korea has languished. Indeed, millions of North Koreans reportedly died in a famine that swept the country in the 1990s.
Thor Halvorssen, though, doesn’t fear the North Korean regime. He’s dedicated his life to bringing freedom to the North Korean people.
Along with his 12-person organization, the Human Rights Foundation, he organizes groups that launch hot-air balloons from South Korea. The balloons carry Hollywood movies and other western media that are banned in North Korea. The balloons have timers that are set to drop the media in North Korean territory so that oppressed North Koreans can find them.
Halvorssen also goes on South Korean TV shows to foster action against the Kim regime. When he’s not doing that, he organizes Hackathons, in which computer experts try to hack the North Korean regime.
Halvorssen’s veins course with Human Rights. He was born in Venezuela to a prominent family of activists. His dad was once a high-level government official who was thrown in prison when he exposed corruption. His mom was once shot and wounded as she marched in a protest against Hugo Chavez’s strongman regime. His grandfather, furthermore, was a Norwegian diplomat who found himself stranded in Venezuela on the brink of World War II, and once beat up a Nazi official in a fistfight.
Halvorssen’s NGO organizes an annual Human Rights meeting, called The Human Rights Forum, in Oslo, Norway, which observers have called the Davos of the Human Rights field. The Forum aims to invite dissidents from the developing world to speak to rooms filled with moneyed philanthropists. Often, dissidents walk away from the forum with backing from wealthy and influential people who can do wonders for their cause.
Halvorssen might have one passion aside from Human Rights: health. He’s constantly thinking about ways to stay young. He takes dozens of pills to give him youthful bursts of energy.