While diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea seem to be at a standstill, aid organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse continue creating deeper ties with the “hermit kingdom” through charitable donations and development work. In October, Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and son of evangelist Billy Graham, made his third trip to North Korea to deliver $190,000 in equipment and supplies for a new dental center. Since 1997, Samaritan’s Purse has provided North Korea with more than $10 million in assistance.
Though millions of North Koreans have died and suffered extensive human rights violations—including torture, concentration camps, and secret executions—Samaritan’s Purse neither chastises the North Korean government for its abuses nor advocates that the U.S. government improve diplomatic relations between the two nations. “Samaritan’s Purse is not involved in advocating with the U.S. government on foreign policy issues for North Korea or other countries,” Ken Isaacs, international projects director for Samaritan’s Purse, told Sojourners. “We pray more doors will open for us in North Korea to build relationships, gain access, and meet humanitarian needs.”
Recently, Graham has come under scrutiny for earning more in 2008—$1.2 million—than any other leader of a U.S.-based international relief agency, according to nonprofit watchdog GuideStar.