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HRNK Announcements
August 16, 2017

WASHINGTON, August 16, 2017- The Committee of Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC, set up a billboard in Times Square to advocate against widespread human rights violations in North Korea. Our video runs every 20 minutes on 43rd & Broadway and features three short clips of ten seconds each. Kicking off with a set of candles and “120,000 North Korean political prisoners are suffering,” we then display a NASA satellite image with the words “S.O.S., freedom and justice for North Koreans,” and finish off with a motion picture of barbed wires wrapping human figures that alludes to the state of life in North Korea’s “hidden gulags.” 

First Clip: Candles

HRNK is the only US bipartisan NGO dedicated exclusively to researching and reporting on the North Korean human rights situation. We are the first organization to use satellite imagery of the political prison camps in North Korea along with testimony from escapees to scrutinize abuses perpetrated by the North Korean leadership. Since our founding in 2001, we have testified numerous times in front of Congress and published a significant amount of investigative work on North Korea. Our publications focus on how the North Korean regime abuses the human 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 escaping through China. Our research, analysis, publications and outreach were critical in the establishment and investigation of the groundbreaking UN Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in North Korea.

As Professor David Maxwell, HRNK board member points out: “Twenty five million Koreans living in the north are suffering severe human rights conditions every day.  The liberty, dignity, and well being of these Koreans have been under siege for nearly seven decades. It is a moral imperative that we work to end this suffering.  We cannot turn a blind eye to the crimes against humanity taking place on the northern half of the Korean peninsula.”

Ambassador Winston Lord, HRNK board member notes: “If North Korea's nuclear program evokes images of future devastation, its barbaric regime has already condemned its people to a wasteland for decades. The bipartisan HRNK leads a gathering global movement to highlight and ease the suffering of North Koreans. It needs and deserves support in its campaign against the most gripping human rights challenge in the world.”

Second Clip: NASA Satellite Imagery

Your support is crucial to our outreach and the fate of our billboard, behind which stand 25 million helpless North Koreans who cannot speak for themselves. That being said, it is not just about them but also about us. The Kim dynastic dictatorship poses a severe threat to our homeland following the rogue regime’s rising nuclear power that is now capable of reaching the US states of Alaska and Hawaii. Too long have we viewed human rights and politics as separate entities while ignoring their highly correlated dynamics. On that note, HRNK board member Carl Gershman presents two policies necessary to dealing with such regime:

“The first is to contain North Korea by taking steps to deter its aggressive behavior, among them the imposition of comprehensive sanctions and the deployment in South Korea of an effective system of ballistic missile defense. The second is to change it by defending the human rights of the North Korean people. That means doing what we can to end their isolation from the outside world, to empower them, and to give them a voice in determining their country’s future. Only then might there emerge—from within the country’s elite class—people who realize that the current system is doomed and who want to seek a peaceful way to a better future.”

Following his account, we would highly appreciate your support in our endeavor to simultaneously educate the outside and enlighten the inside. In that process, this billboard is a symbol of monumental importance. In the words of veteran human rights investigator David Hawk, “The North Korean gulag is no longer hidden. Its web of political prisons and labor camps—many visible on Google Earth—is there for all to see. But the men and women trapped inside this are hidden still, subject to enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and forced labor under extremely harsh conditions.” With such immorality in mind, now is our chance to light up Times Square on behalf of those who are not lit, for if darkness is the absence of light then where light be, darkness will no longer be. As HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu put it, “this billboard brings our deep concern for the plight of North Korean people right into the path of more than one million people going through Times Square every day.”

Billboard Videos: 
NASA Satellite Imagery
Barbed Wire

Contact: Greg Scarlatoiu, [email protected]; 202-499-7973


Board of Directors
(Affiliations other than HRNK are for identification only)


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)

President, Defense Forum Foundation

Seoul Peace Prize Laureate


Helen-Louise Hunter (Secretary)


Author of Kim Il-Song’s North Korea


Kevin C. McCann (Treasurer)

Formerly of Counsel, Paul Hastings LLP


Roberta Cohen (Co-Chair Emeritus)

Specialist in Humanitarian and Human Rights Issues


Andrew Natsios (Co-Chair Emeritus)

Former Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development

Director, 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

President, National Endowment for Democracy


Stephen Kahng

President, Kahng Foundation


David Kim

Coordinator, The Asia Foundation


Robert King

Former U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues


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

Former Director of Policy Planning Staff, Department of State

Former President, Council on Foreign Relations

Former Chairman, National Endowment for Democracy


David Maxwell

Associate Director of the 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

Professor, George Washington University


Executive Director

Greg Scarlatoiu

In this submission, HRNK focuses its attention on the following issues in the DPRK: The status of the system of detention facilities, where a multitude of human rights violations are ongoing. The post-COVID human security and human rights status of North Korean women, with particular attention to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The issue of Japanese abductees and South Korean prisoners of war (POWs), abductees, and unjust detainees.

North Korea's Political Prison Camp, Kwan-li-so No. 25, Update
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, Raymond Ha
Feb 17, 2024

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 No. 25 by providing details of activity observed during 2021–2023. This report was originally published on Tearline at https://www.tearline.mil/public_page/prison-camp-25.

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

National Strategy for Countering North Korea
Joseph, Collins, DeTrani, Eberstadt, Enos, Maxwell, Scarlatoiu
Jan 23, 2023

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

North Korea’s Political Prison Camp, Kwan-li-so No. 14, Update 1
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, and Amanda Mortwedt Oh
Dec 22, 2021

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

North Korea's Long-term Prison-Labor Facility, Kyo-hwa-so No.3, T’osŏng-ni (토성리)
Joseph S Bermudez Jr, Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda Oh, & Rosa Tokola
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North Korea’s Political Prison Camp, Kwan-li-so No. 25, Update 3
Joseph S Bermudez Jr, Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda Oh, & Rosa Tokola
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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

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

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