Thor Halvorssen is not your typical human rights advocate—the kind who speaks out about the poor treatment of individuals in different parts of the world. Halvorssen makes it his mission to do something about it. His efforts began in 1989 against segregation in South Africa after spending time in a British boarding school, which eventually led to his establishment of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) in 2005. He was a college graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Thor Halvorssen dealt first-hand with some of the horrors of oppression, due to the torture his father faced in prison. In addition, his mother and grandmother were both shot at a demonstration and his cousin is currently in a Venezuelan prison.
An article, Trouble for Tyrants, on The Weekly Standard highlighted many of Halvorssen’s stories, as well as his quest to protect human rights. He has gotten himself in trouble more than once for what he does, even beaten and arrested.
One of his greatest goals is to free the oppressed and destitute people of North Korea. The Human Rights Foundation has been involved in many projects including getting goods and money across the North Korean border, although they put their lives at risk by doing so. According to the article Thor Halvorssen is upbeat, extremely courageous, and loves people.
He has worked with Park, who earned his freedom after escaping the country with the help of his father, to send leaflets and hydrogen tanks over to North Korea, despite the authorities trying to shoot down their balloons. During his career, he has also met people who have left North Korea, such as Yeon-mi Park, Jang Jin-sung, Kang Chol-hwan, and Ji Seong-ho, all of whom have their own stories to tell.
On a South Korean national television show, Halvorssen used his authority to rip three pictures of the last few rulers of North Korea in half and tell people not to be afraid, because these dictators are “afraid of freedom.”