Cover image from HRNK's publication, "Lives for Sale: Personal Accounts of Women Fleeing North Korea to China."
As we observe World Refugee Day, North Korea's slow motion refugee crisis continues. Almost 33,000 North Korean escapees, about 80 percent of them women, have resettled in South Korea. But not all of the North Korean refugees have been as fortunate. Denied protection or safe haven, North Korean refugees in China, in particular women and children, are most vulnerable.
On World Refugee Day, China should be reminded of the obligations it assumed under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Additional Protocol. If forcibly repatriated, North Korean refugees, most of them women, face a credible fear of persecution, as they are interrogated, beaten, tortured, imprisoned and even executed by North Korean authorities. Thus, China should recognize they are refugees sur place and grant them access to the process leading to acquiring political refugee status instead of forcibly repatriating them to conditions of danger.
Ultimately, it is the North Korean regime that holds the key to resolving the North Korean refugee crisis. If it invested in the human security of its population instead of the tools of death that threaten regional peace and security, fewer North Koreans might be forced to leave. If the North Korean regime decriminalized leaving the country without approval, there would no longer be a North Korean refugee crisis. If the North Korean regime began observing the fundamental human rights of Koreans living in the North, that would be a first step down the road of peace, prosperity, reconciliation and unification of all Koreans.
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
Embargoed until 12:01 a.m. February 25, 2021. 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-