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HRNK Announcements
February 08, 2016






North Korean Elites Enable Kim Jong-un’s Policy of ‘Human Rights Denial’

WASHINGTON, February 9, 2016—Under the hardline regime of Kim Jong-un, Pyongyang continues to stand as the stronghold of the most centralized and oppressive political system in the world. Perpetuation of ‘Pyongyang Republic’ absolute supremacy will result in “continued human rights abuses on a horrific scale, malnutrition of the general population, and corruption as a way of survival,” according to a 180-page report authored by Robert Collins, released today by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a nonprofit organization. The report  contributes meaningfully to the body of knowledge needed to establish effective sanctions regimes and other measures aimed to address North Korea’s human rights situation and to counter threats to international peace and security posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons, long-range ballistic missiles, and military provocations.

Currently home to about a tenth of North Korea’s 25 million people, built around up to 200,000 members of core elite families, the North Korean capital city continues to stand as the stronghold of the Kim family regime. Collins explains the grave human rights breaches occurring in North Korea for decades as the consequence of the Kim regime’s policy of ‘human rights denial.’ He thoroughly examines the levers of North Korean power, abuse, and oppression by scrutinizing the privileged treatment received by the Pyongyang citadel and many of its residents under three generations of dynastic totalitarian rule.

According to HRNK Board Member Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Scholar in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute, “if we hope to help relieve the oppression that ordinary North Koreans suffer, we need to understand the system that oppresses them. ‘Pyongyang Republic’ is now the indispensable primer for anyone who wants to learn how North Korea is really ruled. Robert Collins’ superb study is a public service—and it will pose a moral challenge to all readers of conscience.”

HRNK Board Member David Maxwell, Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program, Georgetown University, noted: “The Kim family regime is one of the most misunderstood regimes in history. Robert Collins' ‘Pyongyang Republic’ allows analysts, scholars and laymen to understand the regime in ways that no other work has been able to do in the past nearly seven decades.  This will be the ‘go-to’ reference for as long as the Kim family regime exists and will make an important contribution to the eventual unification process.”

HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu pointed out that “through its unique insight into the functioning of the North Korean regime, ‘Pyongyang Republic’ provides information needed to support future accountability and transitional justice processes addressing human rights violations. If such violations are included in the regime behavior subjected to international sanctions—currently focused only on countering the development and proliferation of nuclear and missile technology—‘Pyongyang Republic’ will become reference material.”

In 2014, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry concluded that grave, systematic, and widespread human rights abuses amounting to “crimes against humanity have been committed” in North Korea, “pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state.” The tightly closed, nuclear-armed communist regime rejects such accusations, which it regards as part of a U.S.-led effort to overthrow it.

The report launch will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 pm on Tuesday, February 9, at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Twelfth Floor, 1150 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Complimentary copies of the report will be provided to all participants. If you plan on attending, send your RSVP to Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs: [email protected]. The publication is also available on HRNK’s website: HRNK.ORG.

Robert Collins served for 31 years in various positions with the U.S. military in Korea, finishing his 37 year career with the U.S. Department of the Army as Chief of Strategy, U.S.-ROK Combined Forces Command, in Seoul, Korea. One of the world’s foremost authorities on North Korean society and the functioning of North Korea’s regime, Collins is the author of the seminal 2012 HRNK study “Marked for Life: Songbun, North Korea’s Social Classification System.”

HRNK was founded in 2001 as a nonprofit research organization dedicated to documenting human rights conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as North Korea is formally known. Visit www.hrnk.org to find out more about HRNK and to download “Pyongyang Republic” along with previous publications.

You may also download the report by accessing the Dropbox link enclosed below:



For media inquiries contact: Greg Scarlatoiu, [email protected]202-499-7973

HRNK Board of Directors

Gordon Flake (Co-Chair)

Chief Executive Officer, Perth USAsia Centre,

The University of Western Australia

Co-author, Paved with Good Intentions:

The NGO Experience in North Korea

Katrina Lantos Swett (Co-Chair)

President and CEO,

Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice

John Despres (Co-Vice-Chair)

Consultant on International Financial & Strategic Affairs

Suzanne Scholte (Co-Vice-Chair)


Defense Forum Foundation

Seoul Peace Prize Laureate

Helen-Louise Hunter (Secretary)


Author, Kim Il-Song’s North Korea

Kevin C. McCann (Treasurer)

General Counsel, StrataScale, Inc.

Counsel, SHI International Corp.

Roberta Cohen (Co-Chair Emeritus)

Non-Resident Senior Fellow,

Brookings Institution

Specializing in Humanitarian and Human Rights Issues

Andrew Natsios (Co-Chair Emeritus)

Former Administrator,

U.S. Agency for International Development


Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs

Executive Professor, The Bush School of Government & Public Service,

Texas A&M University

Author of The Great North Korean Famine

Morton Abramowitz

Senior Fellow,

The Century Foundation

Jerome Cohen

Co-Director, US-Asia Law Institute,

NYU Law School

Adjunct Senior Fellow,

Council on Foreign Relations

Lisa Colacurcio

Advisor, Impact Investments

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Associate Dean,

Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles

Jack David

Senior Fellow,

Hudson Institute

Paula Dobriansky

Chair, World Affairs Council of America

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,

Kennedy School of Government,

Harvard University

Distinguished National Security Chair,

U.S. Naval Academy

Nicholas Eberstadt

Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy,

American Enterprise Institute

Author of books on North Korea, including North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society

Carl Gershman


National Endowment for Democracy

Stephen Kahng


Kahng Foundation

David Kim


The Asia Foundation

Debra Liang-Fenton

U.S. Institute of Peace

Former Executive Director, HRNK

Winston Lord

Former Assistant Secretary for East Asia,

Department of State

Former Ambassador to China

Director of Policy Planning Staff,

Department of State

Former President,

Council on Foreign Relations

Former Chairman,

National Endowment for Democracy

David Maxwell

Associate Director,

Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program, Georgetown University

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Marcus Noland

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies,

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Author of books on North Korea including Avoiding the Apocalypse: the Future of the Two Koreas

Jacqueline Pak


George Washington University

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