Since its creation in 2004, the Human Rights Foundation, headed by Thor Halvorssen, has not only championed the cause of individual liberty in some of the world’s most oppressive country with words, but also by their deeds. One of Thor Halvorssen’s and HRF’s primary targets is North Korea, whose people have suffered under the totalitarian rule of the Kim family for decades. The government maintains tight control over the information its citizens are allowed to access. Even watching TV shows from South Korea can be punishable by jail time.
In 2014, Halvorssen and some of his allies launched balloons with DVDs and flash drives into North Korea to give its citizens an idea of life outside the so-called “Hermit Kingdom.” North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jung Un, was so enraged it was reported he ordered agents to assassinate Halvorssen during another visit to South Korea. No actual attempt was made on his life, but he was assaulted during a trip to Vietnam. Halvorssen conducted a secret interview with Thich Quang Do, who’s church is outlawed by the government. Vietnamese authorities detained Halvorssen and beat him, but Halvorssen managed to talk his way to freedom . . . and still get the interview out of the country.
Halvorssen’s HRF has also called for the release of Thai activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa for sharing an article on Facebook critical of the country’s new king. Halvorssen criticized South Korea’s government for what he calls its silence on North Korea’s continued human rights abuses. HRF has also launched campaigns to benefit political prisoners in countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia.
Not only does Halvorssen champion human rights, he also has an interest in film. He served as a producer for the movies “Freedom’s Fury,” about the 1956 Hungarian revolution, and “Hammer and Tickle,” a satire about the former Soviet Union. Halvorssen currently is working on a film version of Robert A. Heinlein’s novel “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”