Newsletter #1, February 10, 2013
prepared by Sung Suh, professor at PUST and
Director of R&D Center at PUST
Dear Friends and Supporters of Brighter
World Movement (BWM):
One day prior
to entering into PUST (Pyong Yang
University of Science & Technology) for a semester of teaching at PUST, last spring, 2012, I was told at
an orientation meeting that the electrical power supply at PUST was less than an hour a day and getting progressively worse. I
was totally dumbfounded to hear that and I wondered what would the power
situation at the other parts of the country be like when the power supply was
so bad even at a university such as PUST?
And I began to wonder what I could do to help those needy
students and families residing in the countryside. I made a decision to help
them out by launching Brighter World Movement (BWM
www.Brighterworldmovement.org.), not only for those North
Korean families but also in the long run, for those who need lights around the
world. The light for studying, for working and for living or for whatever.. provide
with the lights inexpensively. Like many others have realized already, I
immediately thought that the solar powered lamp is the answer to satisfy the
needs. It¡¯s now been almost a year since I dreamed of starting BWM.
returning to the U.S.A. for a summer vacation in June, I¡¯ve prepared a power
point which tells the stories of BWM;
did research as to why solar lamps and who makes them inexpensively, reliably and sturdily; plans for raising the
funds; plans for how to use it to help those who need lights; plans for providing
needy with the lights easily and inexpensively.
I¡¯ve told BWM stories
to friends and families at homes, at churches, and restaurants, whenever and
wherever there was an opportunity and I sent out emails as well. I¡¯ve included in
my talks how serious the power situation was in North Korea as an example.
church members and others supported the cause and ideas of BWM. Some donated to purchased one lamp, many 10 and some 100
lamps; in total, the funds to purchase more than 2,700 solar lamps were raised (each
costs about $10 per unit from dlightdesign) during 2-months of my summer
vacation of 2012.
I would like
to extend my thanks again to all those who generously donated the money and time,
Thy Neighbors¡± as well as to those who showed their
continued interests in helping needy children and families in North Korea and
around the world.
returning to PUST for the fall
semester in September, 2012, I initially thought to purchase and to bring in
1,000 units of solar lamps from dlightdesign Co. in Palo Alto, U.S.A. However,
I realized that I was not sure, first of all, how I could bring them to PUST without causing trouble —remember
that the university is in a city which is located in a tightly controlled and
isolated country. Furthermore, even more importantly, I was not sure if I could
deliver those lamps to the needy in the countryside outside the city of Pyong
Yang. Mind you that I was never allowed to leave the PUST campus without a minder following me around during the entire
Therefore, I decided to bring in only 500 lamps as a trial and to
see how the initial attempt to bring them in and to distribute them to the
children would work out. So, I ordered 100 of S1 model and 400 of S10 model
lamps, respectively, from dlightdesign Co. (See
pictures of S2 and S20 model, respectively). To my pleasant surprise, I was
able to receive those lamps in three weeks from the date of order and was able
to store them in a temporary warehouse at PUST
R&D Center (See the Pictures of the lamps arrival at PUST). The pick-up and delivery of the lamps from Pyong Yang
International airport was done with the help of foreign affairs department at PUST-i.e., the department which is in
charge of minders¡¯ operation.
be honest, I was rather excited upon the delivery of lamps without much trouble
at all and with all the necessary cooperation extended by the minder¡¯s
department! Remember that they are assigned to watch us over, not so much of extending
any help to us. And because it meant that the major hurdle of bringing in those
lamps were executed with a flying color. By the way, to top it off, I didn¡¯t
even have to pay for any import duty for the lamps, since I have pre-applied
for a custom duty exemption document.
my great disappointment, about this time I was told that any products brought
into PUST without paying the custom
duty are not allowed to be removed from the campus; I suddenly realized that the
second hurdle was even bigger problem than the first and thought that the lamps
could be stuck at PUST, not going
other words, the lamps couldn¡¯t be sent to those elementary school children
desperately needing them unless I came up with a way out. I¡¯ve actively engaged
in seeking a solution to this issue in-between my lecture schedules. I¡¯ve
talked to the vice president of N. Korean-side, my counterpart; I met and
pleaded with the president of N. Korean-side as well asking for a solution to
In about a week¡¯s time from the delivery of the lamps to PUST, while I was agonizing about the
way of getting the lamps out of to those children¡¯s hands, out of the blue an
encouraging signal came from an unexpected corner; that is, a proposal came
from N. Korean vice present if I would allow sending 100+ lamps to temples in
the mountainous region; an idea struck me that this proposal might be a door
opener to other possibilities; I promptly agreed to send the lamps to the
temples. I assumed, of course, those temples won¡¯t have any electricity anyway,
being located in deep mountains.
A team of people from ¡°National Heritage Preservation
Association¡± showed up to pick up the lamps: they thanked me profusely and sent
me a few pictures demonstrating how the monks were making a perfect use of those
lamps around the temples; monks reading the Buddhist scriptures under the lights
as well as lighting huge prayer rooms (See Pictures from the temples: Pictures;
the pictures shown is one of the largest temple in Korean peninsula).
Within a week or so, I was allowed to send another 100+ lamps to
an elementary school; shortly thereafter, another 100+ to a middle school in
the countryside, respectively (See Pictures below). I gifted the rest of the
lamps to each of PUST faculty
members, and also to 30 of North Korean staff members (See pictures that
students and professors using the lamps in PUST
lecture rooms; Pictures #4-1; 4-2; 4-3; at PUST
cafeteria and on campus roadways; Pictures #5-1; 5-2; 5-3; also a happy girl
with the lamp: Pictures #6-1; 6-2). I was quite happy at this point and able to
breathe easily seeing that our first lamp delivery overcame major hurdles,
including those restrictions imposed by unknowable regulations and was properly
disposed of to those people we¡¯ve initially targeted.
The long term plan for BWM
is to develop PUST¡¯s own solar lamp design,
hopefully one of the best in the world, and assemble them on campus as a part
of student training project. N. Korean side was in fact very enthusiastic about
the idea of on-campus assembly, and promised a full support for the project.
Since many of the parts needed for the lamps assembly are not available from/in
N. Korea, one of the key tasks is the sourcing of those parts from China: a quite
useful experience to gain by the students, I would say.
cost of producing our own lamps would be probably less than half of that of
imports from China; for example, the transportation cost alone is $2.20 per
lamp out of $10.00, total delivered cost to PUST. This means that at least the double quantity of lamps could
be provided with the same amounts of funds available for the project.
we are pleased to report that we are witnessing the small
steps we have taken through BWM projects begin to yield intended crops; we ask
for your continuing supports and prayers for the success of these efforts.
¡°Let there be light, and
there was light (Genesis 1:3).¡± We are dreaming of a dream for many Einsteins being born and many
Steven Jobs being trained under the BWM solar lamps.
**BWM is one
of the Special Projects of ACEF (Asia Culture & Education Foundation).
ACEF is a non-profit organization;
its website is: www.Brighterworldmovement.org.
**If you are interested in PUST,
please contact ACEF; we will send you a DVD which
introduces PUST in detail. PUST urgently needs professors as well
as research workers at its R&D center.