HRNK REPORT LAUNCH: DENIED FROM THE START: HUMAN RIGHTS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IN NORTH KOREA, BY ROBERT COLLINS
NEW HRNK REPORT HIGHLIGHTS THE LIFE OF NORTH KOREANS OUTSIDE OF PYONGYANG A ND EXPLAINS THE MECHANISM OF HUMAN RIGHTS DENIAL AT THE LOCAL LEVEL; FEATURES FIRST-HAND TESTIMONY OF MANDATORY SELF-CRITICISM SESSIONS
THE REPORT, AVAILABLE THROUGH https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/Collins_Denied_FINALFINALFINAL_WEB.pdf, IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EST WEDNESDAY DEC. 19, 2018
WASHINGTON, December 19, 2018. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) releases today a comprehensive study of North Korean society at the “local level,” beyond the boundaries of the privileged elite who live in the capital city of Pyongyang. Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea surveys the local institutions tasked by the Kim regime to deny the human rights of North Koreans within their families, schools, housing units, and workplaces.
Denied from the Start catalogs the systematic abuse of human rights by the North Korean regime, including a first-hand account of a schoolchild’s experience of mandatory self-criticism sessions inside the country, along with a detailed rendition of her self-criticism notebook.
Author Robert Collins states: “It was my intent to adopt a bottom-up rather than top-down approach to studying North Korean society at the local level. I wanted to highlight the human rights abuses faced by the vast majority of North Koreans who are not political elites.” In this way, Denied from the Start outlines the hardship endured by the family unit in the North Korean provinces. Collins further adds: “Parents are just trying to raise their children to have a better future and life than they did, but it’s impossible because of the Kim regime’s policies and institutions that deny human rights at every turn.” Ultimately, Denied from the Start is a testament to the Party-state’s willful failure to meet its obligations to its people, assumed through international human rights mechanisms North Korea has ratified as well as its own domestic legislation.
Denied from the Start makes it clear that North Korea’s participation in international human rights mechanisms and accession to relevant legal instruments is not honored in policies at the local level, severely impacting ordinary North Koreans who are, in reality, denied their fundamental human rights from birth. According to HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu, “understanding the dynamics of human rights denial at the local level is imperative in order to prepare for future humanitarian and development interventions as well as transitional justice.” Scarlatoiu further states that, by understanding human rights denial at the local level, “the international community will be better equipped to approach the education of North Koreans about freedom and human rights when the opportunity presents itself.”
Jung H. Pak, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow and SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies states that “too often, we focus on the top leadership, the nuclear and ballistic missile programs and the national security threat they pose to the international community.” Park considers that Robert Collins’ studies, including Denied from the Start, “have profoundly shaped the contours of the debate and our understanding of the hardest of the hard targets.” According to Park, Denied from the Start “powerfully shows how repression and human rights violations are baked into the system, and how the regime’s harnessing of the mechanisms of internal control is a critical pillar that serves to reinforce the Kim dynasty’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.” Park regards the report as “a must-read for policymakers, military planners, students and national security experts.”
David Maxwell, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow and HRNK Board member predicts that Denied from the Start “will become a most important contribution to the Korean unification process.” According to Maxwell, “every military organization, intelligence agency, government department, and non-governmental and international organization that enters North Korea to help the Korean people will be well prepared if they read this report first. Policy, strategy, and campaign planning can flow from this report.” Maxwell further states that “Robert Collins has given Koreans living in the North a voice and through this report we can better understand the situation and how to address it now and when unification happens.”
Tomás Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, has called for access inside North Korea, particularly in the provinces. According to Special Rapporteur Quintana, “Whereas the system of political control over the population remains intact all along the country, there is a pattern of people being left on their own by the Government to make their livelihood –where people under arduous and generally illegal conditions must provide for their health, for their food–despite the Government’s assurances that its people enjoy these kinds of rights".
North Korea will undergo its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2019. This is a review process of a state’s human rights record, and all UN member states are periodically reviewed with the intention of improving the human rights situation on the ground. As Denied from the Start recommends, the lives of North Koreans may be improved by eliminating loyalty-based socio-political discrimination (songbun), preferential treatment of residents in Pyongyang, and self-criticism sessions (saenghwal chonghwa). Consequently, the UPR is another opportunity to engage North Korea and advocate for human rights improvements on behalf of millions of vulnerable men, women and children. “If North Korea is keen on joining the 21st century community of civilized and responsible nations, it must assume its responsibility to abide by internationally accepted human rights standards,” says Greg Scarlatoiu.
THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EST WEDNESDAY, DEC. 19, 2018.
The report’s release will be held at the Holeman Lounge of the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 from 2:00-4:00pm. The event will feature remarks by Robert Collins, author of Marked for Life: Songbun, North Korea's Social Classification System (2012), Pyongyang Republic: North Korea's Capital of Human Rights Denial (2016), and From Cradle to Grave: The Path of North Korean Innocents (2017). Following this, there will be by a discussion with David Maxwell, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and HRNK Board Member, and Jung Pak, Senior Fellow and SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies at The Brookings Institution. Greg Scarlatoiu, HRNK Executive Director, will moderate.
Please join us! One complimentary copy of the report will be offered to each participant. Our publications are freely available online here as well: https://www.hrnk.org/publications/hrnk-publications.php.
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.
Please email Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs, at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.
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