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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’s Potential Long-Term  Prison-Labor Facility at Sŏnhwa-dong (선화동)
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda Oh, & Rosa Park
Aug 26, 2021

Through satellite imagery analysis and witness testimony, HRNK has identified a previously unknown potential kyo-hwa-so long-term prison-labor facility at Sŏnhwa-dong (선화동) P’ihyŏn-gun, P’yŏngan-bukto, North Korea. While this facility appears to be operational and well maintained, further imagery analysis and witness testimony collection will be necessary in order to irrefutably confirm that Sŏnhwa-dong is a kyo-hwa-so.

North Korea’s Long-term Prison-Labor Facility Kyo-hwa-so No. 8, Sŭngho-ri (승호리) - Update
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda M. Oh, & Rosa P
Jul 22, 2021

"North Korea’s Long-term Prison-Labor Facility Kyo-hwa-so No. 8, Sŭngho-ri (승호리) - Update" is the latest report under a long-term project employing satellite imagery analysis and former political prisoner testimony to shed light on human suffering in North Korea's prison camps.

Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Korea: The Role of the United Nations" is HRNK's 50th report in our 20-year history. This is even more meaningful as David Hawk's "Hidden Gulag" (2003) was the first report published by HRNK. In his latest report, Hawk details efforts by many UN member states and by the UN’s committees, projects and procedures to promote and protect human rights in the DPRK.  The report highlights North Korea’s shifts in its approach

Embargoed until 12:01 a.m. February 25, 2021.  South Africa’s Apartheid and North Korea’s Songbun: Parallels in Crimes against Humanity by Robert Collins underlines similarities between two systematically, deliberately, and thoroughly discriminatory repressive systems. This project began with expert testimony Collins submitted as part of a joint investigation and documentation project scrutinizing human rights violations committed at North Korea’s short-

North Korea's Chŭngsan No. 11 Detention Facility
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda Oh, & Rosa Park
Dec 21, 2020

This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery to shed light on human suffering in the DPRK (more commonly known as North Korea) by monitoring activity at political prison and detention facilities throughout the nation. This study endeavors to both establish a preliminary baseline report and detail activities observed during 2002–2020 at a detention facility variously identified by former prisoners and researchers as the “Chŭngsan No. 11

EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EST WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2019.