Texas, er, Arizona.
Springs decided to start an NGO, with staff and volunteers who understood the culture of North Korea and spoke Korean. The NGO would work for reconciliation between the U.S. and DPRK on the principles of mutual respect and building relationships. “So I got a $30,000 grant from the Southern Baptist Church, maxed out my credit cards, and founded GRS, Global Resource Services, in 1997.”
GRS has worked all over North Korea, in cities and villages, in nine of its ten provinces. GRS professional staff and volunteers — all Americans — have carried out roughly 200 development projects in agriculture, health, and education and cultural exchange. That adds up to almost 1,100 individual visits by Americans to North Korea since 1997. And North Koreans have made about 200 individual return visits to the U.S.
Springs said the starting point for every GRS project is always what the North Korean counterparts determine is their greatest need. “To be honest, that’s not necessarily what we might think their greatest need is. But given the mistrust, our experience is that if we show flexibility from the beginning, the North Koreans generally respond in kind.”
In 2002, GRS decided it had the resources to begin a new agricultural development project. They asked the North Koreans what kind of assistance would be most useful.
“Goats,” the North Koreans said.