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About HRNK

In October of 2001, a distinguished group of foreign policy and human rights specialists launched the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) to promote human rights in North Korea.

HRNK’s Guiding Objectives

Close North Korea’s gulags:

Up to 120,000 people are believed to be imprisoned without due process, under inhumane conditions, for political reasons; an estimated 400,000 have died in such camps. We should seek access to the camps for International Red Cross inspection teams, a list of those imprisoned and those responsible for their care, and information regarding their sentences and their conditions. A special effort must be made to release family members detained in the camps without charge, because of the  policy of collective punishment for the kin of political prisoners. This practice, and infanticide against inmates’ new-born children should be stopped immediately.

Open North Korea’s borders:

North Korea and China must cease criminalizing the act of leaving North Korea without permission, and the rights of those fleeing North Korea’s political persecution must be respected. Escapees are political refugees who must not be forcibly repatriated. UNHCR must be given access to North Koreans in the border areas. Foreign citizens abducted by the regime and held against their will must be allowed to return to their homes.

Inform North Korea’s Citizens:

Provide information to the North Korean people, especially via radio and other media, ending their forced isolation.

Foster good economic principles:

Encourage companies investing in North Korea to develop a code of conduct, similar to the Sullivan principles that were applied in South Africa to protect workers and other citizens. 

Promote access throughout North Korea:

Human rights organizations, and independent media must be given full access to North Korea, thereby ending the information blockade that has prevented the true picture of conditions in North Korea from being known. Both the distribution of and access to humanitarian relief to the North must be adequately and transparently monitored to verify relief is reaching those most in need.

Feed the hungry in North Korea:

Under the regime’s military first policies, food supplies are known to be withheld from those that need it most and provided to those who are categorized as loyal or useful to the regime. Even internationally provided food assistance is reported to be diverted on many occasions. This use of food as a method of political retribution and coercion must stop.

Link Development Assistance to North Korea to tangible improvements in the regime’s human rights record:

Development assistance to the government of North Korea must be predicated on steps taken by it to protect the rights of the people of North Korea, including the right to be free from arbitrary imprisonment and torture, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of conscience.

Current Activities:

The Committee’s research and publication activities focus on how the North Korean totalitarian regime abuses the rights of its citizens, its vast system of political prisons and labor camps, the regime’s denial of equal access to food and goods, and the plight of refugees fleeing to China.

Our well documented studies have established our reputation and our leading role in the growing international network of human rights, humanitarian assistance, and policy organizations committed to opening up and revealing North Korea to the rest of the world.

Statement on Government Funding:

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), founded in 2001 and based in Washington DC, is a non-partisan human rights organization whose principal objective is to raise international awareness of North Korea's human rights situation through the publication of well documented reports and by undertaking outreach activities in support of the recommendations in those reports.

HRNK's funding comes primarily from foundations and individual donors. When the organization accepts funding from governments, it will be to further the mission of HRNK and not for any other purpose. As a non-governmental organization, it is independent from the direction of any government or from being under government influence in any way. It is the objectivity, impartiality and quality of HRNK's reports that have established its reputation and leading role in the network of human rights, humanitarian assistance, and policy organizations focused on North Korea. The organization under all circumstances will uphold its independent and non-political judgement in addressing North Korea's human rights situation.

North Korea: Flooding at Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, Jongo-ri
Greg Scarlatoiu and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.
Sep 16, 2016

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC and AllSource Analysis, a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, have conducted a satellite imagery-based rapid assessment of flood damage at Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, Jongo-ri in Hamgyŏng-bukto, North Korea. Thousands of political prisoners are held in this re-education prison labor camp together with common offenders.

North Korea: Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, Jongo-ri
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Mike Eley
Aug 30, 2016

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. and AllSource Analysis, a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, have launched a report entitled North Korea: Imagery Analysis of Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, Jongo-ri. Although the detention facility was featured in the September 2015 report The Hidden Gulag IV: Gender Repression and Prisoner Disappearances by David Hawk, this is the first HRNK/AllSource An

Gulag, Inc.: The Use of Forced Labor in North Korea's Export Industries
Kim Kwang-jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
May 26, 2016

EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 AM EST THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016 Coal, iron ore, copper, and other commodities constituting the bulk of North Korea’s exports are mined using forced and slave labor, according to a new 50-page report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK). Authored by Kim Kwang-jin, North Korean escapee and senior analyst currently residing in South Korea, Gulag, Inc.: The Use of Forced Labor in North Korea’s Export Industries is an exami

North Korea: Ch’oma-bong Restricted Area
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Andy Dinville, and Mike Eley
Mar 17, 2016

Despite North Korea’s adamant denial that political prison camps exist, research based on interviews and satellite imagery reveals a shocking and detailed operation of a vast system of arbitrary and extra-judicial, unlawful detention. In its findings released 

Report embargoed until 12:01a.m. EST on Tuesday, February 9, 2016.