After the tragic reality of the North Korean food crisis was known in South Korea, KBSM, the precursor to Good Friends, was created on December 12, 1996, under the guidance of Ven. Pomnyun Sunim and the participation of 33 Buddhist groups in South Korea. KBSM was incorporated in the name of Good Friends under the Ministry of Unification in May 1999 and expanded its areas of activity to include international peace, human rights, and international refugee assistance.
In its early stages, Good Friends developed various different ways to provide aid to North Korean residents while shaping the public opinion about North Korean aid.
1. Emergency Aid to North Korea
Initiated humanitarian aid to North Korea, beginning with the cash aid of KRW 50 million (January 10, 1997)
The campaign titled, “Sending Clothes of Love,” aimed at helping North Korean residents get through the cold winter (October 6, 1997)
Emergency aid in North Korea-Chinese border areas
10-30 tons of rice and flour aid to North Korean state-owned enterprises and coal mines in the border areas along the Tumen River such as Musan, Hwaeryeong, Onseong, Saebyeol, Eundeok, Seonbong, Lajin in the North Hamgyeong Province.
2. Activities Related to Forming Domestic Public Opinion
Street fundraising, nationwide public lectures, press conference, meetings with journalists, etc.
1 million signature-collection campaign for inter-Korean reconciliation: Initiated the campaign on July 5, 1997 and exceeded the 1 million signature milestone on August 15th of the same year (1,078,453 signatures in total).
3. Raising Public Opinion Overseas
Visiting, reporting to, and interviewing World Vision, CSIS, USAID, US Representatives, aides of US Senators, WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, etc., as well showing them around North Korean refugee relief aid sites in China