Thor Halvorssen is a man on a mission. The 40-year-old human rights activist spends every waking moment — and many should-be-sleeping moments — fighting to expose corruption around the world.
Halvorssen’s latest obsession is North Korea. He’s working tirelessly to undermine North Korea’s current regime and to open its citizens’ eyes. He helps dissidents and gives them a voice. He and his organization, the Human Rights Foundation, smuggle goods and anti-regime literature across the border. They’ve used balloons to make drops in the past and are constantly looking for new ways to make contact with North Koreans.
Given his background, his passion for individual liberties isn’t surprising. Thor Halvorssen grew up in a family of outspoken rebels and dissidents. His father once worked as Venezuela’s drug czar. When he exposed the systemic corruption of the government, he was placed in a Caracas prison. There, he endured years of torture.
His mother was shot while protesting against Hugo Chávez. He, himself, has faced physical violence because of his beliefs. While in Ho Chi Minh City to interview Thich Quang Do, a man who’d been under house arrest for 28 years because of his religious beliefs, Halvorssen was beaten and detained. His quick thinking — he claimed to be a simple Buddhist, seeking instruction — got him out of trouble.
Thor Halvorssen started the Human Rights Foundation in 2005 with the mission of ridding the world of tyranny, and he’s more than just a figurehead — he’s on the ground, traveling the world to expose political dictatorships and to give voice to the oppressed.