Ryan Beane is in his first year of graduate school at George Washington University, studying security policy. His academic interests include U.S. foreign policy, East Asia, and North Korea. He has always found North Korea interesting, especially concerning its vast human rights abuses, self-imposed isolation, and the dynamics of the Kim regime. He studied abroad at Yonsei University during the spring 2022 semester, and this experience piqued his interests in politics on the Korean Peninsula and relevant foreign policy issues. During his internship, he seeks to learn about and research Pyongyang’s human rights abuses, along with how the regime funds its nuclear program through illicit activities.
Mohona Ganguly is a junior at Cornell University, majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations. She is very passionate about issues pertaining to human rights, labor rights, and international law. She has supplemented this interest by taking numerous courses about labor and human rights, particularly those which cover conditions for workers in the Global South. Learning more about the situation of workers who are currently being forced into doing labor in North Korea drew her to HRNK, and she hopes that her time as an intern will allow her to not only apply her unique knowledge and experience with labor rights, but to truly gain an in-depth understanding of the human rights situation in North Korea.
Angela Yoon is a current senior at Baylor School, and she plans to major in International Relations or International Business in college. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and has lived in South Korea, Indonesia, and China. Due to her multicultural experiences, she is very passionate about educational equity and human rights, specifically that of North Korean defectors.
During the summer of 2023, Angela had the privilege of working with PSCORE, a North Korean human rights non-profit organization based in Seoul. She was a member of the communication and education teams, and she also created lesson plans and tutored North Korean defectors in English. As an HRNK intern, she hopes to gain hands-on experience promoting North Korean human rights.
Jiwoo (Katie) Choi is a junior at Jericho Senior High School. As a Korean citizen who is deeply invested in North Korean human rights, she wants to support North Korean escapees and help raise awareness of the seriousness of the human rights situation through her internship at HRNK.
She first came across North Korean issues through YouTube videos that discussed the everyday life of the North Korean people. Her interest in North Korea deepened after she attended a seminar at Columbia Law School, hosted by the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, on the topic of North Korea’s nuclear program and human rights abuses. Inspired by this seminar, she wrote an essay that compared the corruption levels of North and South Korea and argued that the abject poverty that North Koreans face gives rise to a vicious cycle of deprivation, corruption, and repression.
She hopes to learn more about various aspects of the situation in North Korea, including poverty, corruption, humanitarian aid, and the freedom of expression. This will inform her personal efforts in her community to help improve the human rights situation in North Korea.
Gloria Guo is a senior studying International Relations and Law & Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC). She is passionate about human rights, U.S.-Asia relations, and international law. Gloria first learned about North Korea when she traveled to Yanji at the age of 13, where she met a perceivable number of North Koreans working at local restaurants. She grew more passionate about North Korean human rights issues when she joined Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) at USC. During her undergraduate studies, Gloria has taken several classes on international security, U.S.-Korea relations, and human rights law. As a Research Intern, Gloria hopes to further her understanding of North Korean human rights issues and bring her unique insight and skills to HRNK.
Ava Jane Moorlach is a sophomore at American University enrolled in their Interdisciplinary Studies program. The fields of study in this program include communications, legal institutions, economics, and government. She is simultaneously enrolled in the American University combined bachelor's and master's program. She is on track to graduate in 2025 with her undergraduate degree in addition to her master’s degree in Political Communication.
Her interest in North Korea began after she heard reports of ICBM technology being advanced enough to target anywhere in the United States. In her desire to learn more about the potential nuclear threat, she developed an academic interest in international relations. As her understanding of relations with North Korea became more complex, she grew deeply concerned about the human rights violations committed by the North Korean regime. She hopes to use her time as a HRNK research intern to contribute to tangible solutions for improving human rights in North Korea.
Rachel Baek is a junior at Leigh High School. During a 2018 trip to the Odusan Unification Tower, she caught a glimpse of North Korea for the first time through a telescope and became curious about the conditions there. Since then, she has researched inter-Korean relations and the North Korean diaspora with the goal of understanding human rights issues. She is excited to build on her interests through this internship.
Haeun Moon is an undergraduate student at Harvard College concentrating in Social Studies and Philosophy. She is a Korean-born immigrant, and the issue of human rights is a deeply personal one. From a young age, she questioned why people who share the same language, history, and culture were separated by an arbitrary line. Her family’s experience with the human rights violations of the North Korean government sparked an interest in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in North Korea. This has led to a broader interest in human rights, ranging from the immigrants detained at the southern border of the United States to Afghan refugees.
In the summer of 2022, Haeun was an Oslo Scholar with the Human Rights Foundation, working with NAUH, a Seoul-based non-profit that advocates to defend human rights in North Korea and help those who escape. She spearheaded an international social media campaign in this capacity to raise awareness of the North Korean human rights crisis. Furthermore, she conducted research on UN, EU, and U.S. policies since 2016 related to North Korean human rights, carrying out a comparative analysis on the impact of these policies. These experiences further substantiated her passion for North Korean human rights. She plans to write her senior thesis on inter-Korean relations, with an emphasis on approaching reunification with a focus on North Korean defectors.
Haeun hopes to attend law school after graduation to study international and immigration law, directly serving the disadvantaged members of our communities while pushing for fundamental changes to the system. She is continually reminded of the fact that we all share a common future, and wants to help shape a hopeful future that includes and embraces more people.
Through her internship with HRNK, she hopes to deepen her understanding of the North Korean situation by being embedded in the daily geopolitical happenings, as well as the latest intellectual advancements regarding the North Korean human rights crisis.
Tessa Aguilar is a fourth-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is majoring in Political Science with minors in Global Studies and East Asian Studies.
Since high school, Tessa has been passionate about East Asian Studies, particularly Korean culture and diplomacy. This past summer, she studied abroad at Yonsei University in South Korea, which left an unforgettable impact on her studies. Her driving factor in becoming further involved with HRNK was hearing a North Korean defector speak during a class session. Tessa is also writing her senior thesis on various levels of cooperation within international relations theory and governance, using South Korea and Japan as a case study.
Learning more about the humanitarian dilemma in North Korea will help Tessa further explore the intersection between Korean politics and methodological theory. As a Research Intern at HRNK, Tessa hopes to gain direct exposure to human rights issues in North Korea as well as how the North Korean government influences the international environment. She aims to return to South Korea in the future to continue her postgraduate studies and pursue international law.
Kate Refolo is a recent graduate from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Interdisciplinary Studies: Cultural Studies and a minor in Philosophy. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and received the Cultural Studies Medallion of Academic Excellence during her senior year. She became interested in North Korean Human Rights and North-South Korea relations many years ago after watching a documentary about North Korean defectors’ escape experiences.
During her junior year at Villanova University, Kate studied abroad at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea. At her study abroad orientation, she had the opportunity to listen to a North Korean defector’s escape story. This experience sparked her interest in the integration of North Korean refugees into South Korean society, and she decided to pursue this topic as her senior capstone thesis project. This project has inspired her to continue researching and advocating for North Korean human rights.
In January 2023, Kate will be returning to South Korea to teach English through the Fulbright program. While in South Korea, she hopes to have the opportunity to volunteer with and tutor North Korean defectors.
Valerie Xu is a rising second-year graduate student at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations with a concentration in States, Markets, and Institutions in Asia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2021, with a double major in International Studies and East Asian Studies, both with honors, as well as a minor in Psychology. She became interested in the Korean Peninsula after taking courses such as “History and Culture of North Korea,” “Korea in the World,” “Korean War,” and “North Korea, Identity, and International Politics.” Through her undergraduate senior honor thesis, “Finding Space for Xingshaoshu (LGB) College Students in China,” she gained a deeper understanding of how advocacy and activism could be strategically conducted in a hostile environment under an authoritarian regime. Her research project was recognized as the co-winner of the 2021 Robert Tucker Prize for Best Thesis in International Studies. As a research intern at HRNK, she hopes to further her knowledge of the Korean Peninsula and broaden her perspectives on human rights issues. She aims to pursue a dual degree program in South Korea and aspires to apply her skills and experience in the fields of diplomacy and public affairs.
Bryan Clark completed his master's in International and Security Politics at the European School of Political and Social Sciences (ESPOL) at Lille Catholic University. He previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in Government – International Relations at California State University, Sacramento.
He first became interested in Korean Peninsula issues during his undergraduate program, where he studied about the governments of South and North Korea. He worked for two years as an English teacher in South Korea. From this experience, he developed a deeper interest in Korean Peninsula issues. He is interested in security, refugee, and human rights issues, particularly in relation to North Korea.
His goal is to work in human rights and diplomacy. He looks forward to being able to further improve his knowledge of human rights and refugee issues regarding North Korea. He is excited about being able to participate in HRNK’s efforts to bring further attention to the human rights violations committed by the North Korean government.
Yubin Jun is a senior at Sungkyunkwan University, pursuing BA in Political Science and Law. She is interested in the unique North Korean system and its implications for inter-Korean relations. She worked as a senior researcher at the undergraduate student
research group of Sungkyunkwan University, where she researched “Quad-Plus: Prospects and Implications to North Korea Nuclear Power.” During this research, she was deeply impressed by the influence of the U.S., which could leverage North Korea’s actions. She was appointed as president of the Global Student Network Help and Information Club of her school. In this role, she interacted with international students from various nations who have an interest in inter-Korea relations.
As part of her effort to understand inter-Korea relations, she also served as a student journalist at the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of Korea. She interviewed prosecutor So-young Jang, who specializes in North Korean Law and crimes in the Kaesong Industrial Complex. She also served as a student reporter for the Ministry of Unification, where she wrote articles regarding the Unified Korean sports team at the 2018 Pyeong-Chang Olympics.
Her goal is to be a lawyer specializing in North Korean law and international relations who can advise private firms and governmental institutions that may invest in the exclusive industrial zone between South and North Korea. She hopes that working at HRNK will better equip her with different perspectives and provide a broader spectrum of knowledge of the situation between South and North Korea.
Jiwoo Hwang is a rising sophomore in Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. She was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to different countries, including due to her father’s job as a diplomat. After meeting a teenage defector at a seminar hosted by her family friends, her interest in North Korea grew. As an intern of HRNK, Jiwoo hopes that she can learn more about the current situation in North Korea and more about the detailed history of the Kim’s reign. She also looks forward to reaching out to the ones suffering in North Korea.
This report explains how the Kim regime organizes and implements its policy of human rights denial using the Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD) to preserve and strengthen its monolithic system of control. The report also provides detailed background on the history of the PAD, as well as a human terrain map that details present and past PAD leadership.
HRNK's latest satellite imagery report analyzes a 5.2 km-long switchback road, visible in commercial satellite imagery, that runs from Testing Tunnel No. 1 at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility to the perimeter of Kwan-li-so (political prison camp) no. 16.
This report proposes a long-term, multilateral legal strategy, using existing United Nations resolutions and conventions, and U.S. statutes that are either codified or proposed in appended model legislation, to find, freeze, forfeit, and deposit the proceeds of the North Korean government's kleptocracy into international escrow. These funds would be available for limited, case-by-case disbursements to provide food and medical care for poor North Koreans, and--contingent upon Pyongyang's progress
For thirty years, U.S. North Korea policy have sacrificed human rights for the sake of addressing nuclear weapons. Both the North Korean nuclear and missile programs have thrived. Sidelining human rights to appease the North Korean regime is not the answer, but a fundamental flaw in U.S. policy. (Published by the National Institute for Public Policy)
North Korea’s forced labor enterprise and its state sponsorship of human trafficking certainly continued until the onset of the COVID pandemic. HRNK has endeavored to determine if North Korean entities responsible for exporting workers to China and Russia continued their activities under COVID as well.
George Hutchinson's The Suryong, the Soldier, and Information in the KPA is the second of three building blocks of a multi-year HRNK project to examine North Korea's information environment. Hutchinson's thoroughly researched and sourced report addresses the circulation of information within the Korean People's Army (KPA). Understanding how KPA soldiers receive their information is needed to prepare information campaigns while taking into account all possible contingenc
This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery and former prisoner interviews to shed light on human suffering in North Korea by monitoring activity at political prison facilities throughout the nation. This is the second HRNK satellite imagery report detailing activity observed during 2015 to 2021 at a prison facility commonly identified by former prisoners and researchers as “Kwan-li-so No. 14 Kaech’ŏn” (39.646810, 126.117058) and
This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery and former prisoner interviews to shed light on human suffering in North Korea by monitoring activity at civil and political prison facilities throughout the nation. This study details activity observed during 1968–1977 and 2002–2021 at a prison facility commonly identified by former prisoners and researchers as "Kyo-hwa-so No. 3, T'osŏng-ni" and endeavors to e
This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery and former detainee interviews to shed light on human suffering in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea) by monitoring activity at political prison facilities throughout the nation. This report provides an abbreviated update to our previous reports on a long-term political prison commonly identified by former prisoners and researchers as Kwan-li-so
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" 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
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-term detention facilities, conducted by the Committee for Human Rights