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PRESS RELEASE: Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment
July 19, 2012

Report Embargoed until 12:01 am EDT, Thursday, July 19, 2012


Committee for Human Rights in North Korea Releases New Report: Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment: An Examination of North Korea’s Police State

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C., will launch Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment: An Examination of North Korea’s Police State on July 19 at the Korea Economic Institute (KEI).  Authored by North Korean leadership specialist Ken E. Gause, the publication reveals the labyrinth of pervasive security agencies and informants that help the Kim regime maintain surveillance and control over its people. 

"The North Korean people suffer under a level of oppressive control few societies in the past century have had to endure and it is the state security apparatus which maintains this brutal system so well documented in this report," remarked Committee Co-Chair Andrew Natsios.

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.

"Even if Kim Jong-un wanted to reform North Korea's political system, he will come up against security staff intent on purging, arbitrarily arresting and meting out inhuman treatment to all those perceived as threatening to the Kim family's continuance in power," observed Committee Co-Chair Roberta Cohen.

The security agencies play a primary role in restricting the flow of information, ensuring strict ideological conformity through Orwellian surveillance and coercion tactics.  North Koreans must participate fully in self-criticism sessions or face time in a political prison camp.  State security agents conduct routine checks to ensure that radio sets remain perpetually tuned to the state frequency, and "109 squads" roam border towns at night, arresting smugglers and confiscating South Korean TV shows and dramas that have entered the country.  

“Having ensured the survival of the Kim family’s dynastic regime for six decades, North Korea’s complex and ruthless internal security apparatus will no doubt continue to be a key element of Kim Jong-un’s political control. Greater awareness of how it operates is essential to understanding how the Kim regime remains in power,” observed Committee Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, established in 2001 by a distinguished group of foreign policy and human rights specialists, seeks to draw attention to human rights conditions in North Korea by publishing well-documented reports and papers, convening conferences, testifying at national and international fora, and seeking creative ways to end the isolation of the North Korean people.  Most recently, the Committee launched its Marked For Life publication on North Korea’s social classification system in June 2012.

THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EST WEDNESDAY DEC. 19, 2018. Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea is a comprehensive study of how North Korea’s Kim regime denies human rights for each and every citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In doing so, this report examines human rights denial policies and practices. Local institutions are responsible for this denial at the schools, housing units, workplaces, and beyon

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