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Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment: An Examination of the North Korean Police State

Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment: An Examination of the North Korean Police State

Ken E. Gause
Jul 19, 2012

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Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment lifts the curtain on North Korea’s three main security agencies – the State Security Department, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Military Security Command.   Increasing in complexity and relevance with each generation, the apparatus relies on constant surveillance, a network of informants in every neighborhood, and the threat of punishment in North Korea’s notorious prison camps to ensure the Kim regime’s total control.

The report suggests that the internal security apparatus, built under Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, will continue to be a key element of Kim Jong-un’s political control.   “For sixty years, the internal security apparatus has ensured the survival of the Kim family dictatorship,” says Gause, “Whether or not North Korea collapses, evolves, or continues to muddle through will depend a great deal on the viability of this all-pervasive apparatus.”  State security agencies have supported Kim Jong-un as he consolidates power, increasing border surveillance and cracking down on marketplaces and telephone communication.

Marked for Life: Songbun, North Korea's Social Classification System

Marked for Life: Songbun, North Korea's Social Classification System

Robert Collins
Jun 06, 2012

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The North Korean government assigns a “songbun” status to every citizen at birth based on the perceived political loyalty of his or her family going back generations. While a small, politically loyal class in North Korea is entitled to extensive privileges, the vast majority of citizens are relegated to a permanent lower status and then discriminated against for reasons they cannot control or change.

 

The Hidden Gulag Second Edition

The Hidden Gulag Second Edition

David Hawk
Apr 10, 2012

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Based on extensive interviews with over 60 defectors and more than 40 satellite photos of North Korean political prisoner camps, the report calls for the dismantlement of the vast North Korean gulag system in which 150,000 to 200,000 are incarcerated.

Taken!

Taken!

Yoshi Yamamoto
Nov 30, 2011

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TAKEN! provides an in-depth and comprehensive history and analysis of North Korea’s state-sponsored policy of abducting citizens of other countries. This criminal enterprise dates back to the earliest days of the regime, and to policy decisions made by Kim II-sung himself. Those abducted came from widely diverse backgrounds, numerous nationalities, both genders, and all ages, and were taken from placs as far away as London, Copenhagen, Zagreb, Beirut, Hong Kong, and China, in addition to Japan. During the 1960′s, 93,000 Koreans were lured from Japan and held against their will in North Korea. A decade later, children of North Korean agents were apparently kidnapped in order to control their parents. Beginning in the late 1970′s, foreigners who could teach North Korean operatives to infiltrate targeted countries were brought to North Korea and forced to teach spies. Since then, people in China who assist North Korean refugees have been targeted. By our estimation, the staggering sum of these captives who are held against their will is 180, 308.

North Korea after Kim Jong-il: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

North Korea after Kim Jong-il: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

Kim Kwang Jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
2011

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North Korea today is in a state of power transition that could lead to new dangers, instability, and uncertainty.  This was not the case during the first succession.  Kim Jong-Il had been carefully groomed by his father to succeed him.  The process had gone on for twenty years and was directed by Kim Il-Sung himself.

In North Korea, all political power derives from Kim Il-Sung’s reign.  At the present, North Korea refers to itself as “Kim Il-Sung’s nation.”  In 1998, the North Korean Constitution was changed to enshrine Kim Il-Sung as the “eternal president,” even though he had been dead for four years.

Acting in his father’s name, Kim Jong-Il was able to seize and retain power.  His son, Kim Il-Sung’s grandson, must now do the same thing.  The regime knows that this basis for power succession cannot be used so easily again, and is rushing to tie the young man to his grandfather’s political legacy.

Even though it is clear that Kim Jong-Il has named his third son, Kim Jong-Eun, as the heir, there is no sure guarantee this time that it will work well.  Depending on how the succession proceeds and taking into account many unpredictable developments, a number of possibilities will arise.  Before the “next leader” of North Korea takes over, there may be turmoil, confusion, and unexpected rivalries.

Lives for Sale: Personal Accounts of Women Fleeing North Korea to China

Lives for Sale: Personal Accounts of Women Fleeing North Korea to China

Lee Hae Young
Oct 01, 2009

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This report calls the world’s attention to the suffering of North Korean women who have become the victims of trafficking and forced marriages after escaping their country to seek a new life in China. Seventy-seven interviews with North Korean women living in China yield 52 personal accounts--life stories of women who leave their home country for survival and safety only to be purchased by Chinese men who abuse and exploit them in China. In spite of finding places to live, North Korean women enter a maze of entrapping political and social difficulties that threaten not just the North Korean women themselves but also their children. The Chinese government defines them as “illegal economic migrants” and sends them back to North Korea where they are punished in prison camps and detention facilities. Lee Hae-young, a dedicated human rights activist, interviewed North Korean women through a series of trips to China, vividly illustrating how a combination of policy and practices on both sides of the border has created an ever widening web of exploitation and degradation of vulnerable women and their children. As troubling as the testimony of these eyewitnesses is, they are among the most fortunate women of North Korea, who have survived the North Korean famine and the perilous road of defection.

After Kim Jong II: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

After Kim Jong II: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

Kim Kwang Jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
2009

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This report is part of HRNK’s “Occasional Papers,” expressing a viewpoint not necessarily representative of the Committee or its Board of Directors. Rather, this paper is written from the viewpoint of a courageous man who has seen the North Korean system from within and has participated in the workings of that system. The author knows how outcomes are produced in North Korea and which individuals are critical to the political process. Kim Kwang-jin provides an overview of the North Korean regime, stating that, due to Kim Jong-il’s fragile health, power transition is likely to take place in the near future. According to the author, Kim Jong-un, the third son of Kim Jong-il, will likely take up the vacant seat of power. Kim Kwang-jin proposes four different scenarios of hereditary succession: 1. Direct transfer of one-man rule to Kim Jong-eun. 2. Repetition of Kim Jong-il style dictatorship supported from behind the scenes by a collective regency. 3. Takeover by a single regent. 4. Military coup. The report formulates recommendations aiming to promote international involvement and to prepare a foundation for new policies in a post-Kim Jong-il North Korea. The report includes detailed profiles and headshot photographs of influential persons involved in the current power succession in North Korea.

Failure to Protect: The Ongoing Challenge of North Korea

Failure to Protect: The Ongoing Challenge of North Korea

DLA Piper
2008

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This report is a sequel to the previous report, “Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea” (2006), which called for the UN Security Council to take action. The report identifies concerns with respect to human rights in North Korea. While North Korea has opened up to some international aid, their food policy and inequitable social classification system (“Songbun”) prevents large segments of the population from ever receiving food provided by international and bilateral relief agencies. After the first “Failure to Protect” report, other research has drawn attention to the treatment of political dissenters, detailing North Korea’s continued use of political prison camps to brutally deny basic human rights. Findings also include North Korea’s continued reluctance to earnestly deal with the issue of its abduction of foreign citizens. The report addresses the outflow of refugees and spillover effects, which lead to the creation of a market of victims of trafficking, exploitation, and violence. The report concludes by addressing several policy recommendations to the international community.

Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea

Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
2007

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For over sixty years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has engaged in the systematic, flagrant violation of nearly every human right recognized and protected by international law. This handbook describes the options available to human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to pursue international legal action against North Korea. The international legal system offers a variety of avenues for action, which NGOs can pursue. This report explores such legal avenues, linking NGOs to a larger framework of international legal institutions. It identifies specific options available in the case of North Korea, explores ways to pursue available options, and analyses the practical advantages and difficulties of each one. By presenting practical information, this report attempts to illustrate how NGOs may conduct their own analysis for legal options most helpful to their respective challenges.

Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea

Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea

DLA Piper LLP
2006

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Czech Republic President Havel, Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik, and Nobel Peace Prize Laurate and Boston University Professor Elie Wiesel commissioned the global law firm DLA Piper LLP to work with the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, because they believed that the security threat posed by North Korea has relegated the human rights concerns in the country to a second-class status. With the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of the doctrine that each state has a “responsibility to protect” its own citizens from the most egregious of human rights abuses, this report presents the failure of the North Korean government to exercise its responsibility to protect its own people. Based on a comprehensive review of published information and first-hand interviews, this report concludes that North Korea has violated its responsibility to protect its own citizens from crimes against humanity being committed in the country, that North Korea has refused to accept prior recommendations from UN bodies to remedy the situation, and therefore, that UN Security Council action is warranted. In addition, the report explains that North Korea qualifies as a non-traditional threat to international peace and security and describes the country’s involvement in the production of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

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While examining satellite imagery of an area near the North Korean capital city, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) and AllSource Analysis, Inc. (ASA) may have come across evidence of a ghastly sight: the public execution of several individuals by anti-aircraft machine gun fire. Please click here to read more. 

On April 27, 2015, HRNK releases their report, Arsenal of Terror: North Korea, State Sponsor of Terrorism by Joshua Stanton at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Please click here to view the press release.