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Oppression of the North Korea Human Rights Movement by the ROK Administration
August 12, 2020

August 12, 2020


His Excellency Moon Jae-in

President of the Republic of Korea

The Blue House

Seoul, Republic of Korea


RE: Oppression of the North Korea Human Rights Movement by your administration

We the undersigned are writing you today as individuals who greatly value the friendship and the strong alliance between the people of South Korea and the United States of America, but we are deeply troubled by the actions of your administration aimed at undermining the North Korea human rights movement by targeting all the major organizations that work to help rescue, educate, protect and/or improve the lives of North Koreans.   We represent individuals who have worked in the administrations of both Democratic and Republican Presidencies including former Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and represent nongovernmental organizations that span the political spectrum in the USA, but we are all united with this concern: it is the responsibility of the international community, especially the Republic of Korea, to uphold the human rights of the people of North Korea.  As stated by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the People’s Republic of Korea (February 2014): “The international community must accept its responsibility to protect the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from crimes against humanity, because the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has manifestly failed to do so.”

In particular the UN COI recommended that China and all states: “Respect the principle of non-refoulement and, accordingly, abstain from forcibly repatriating any persons to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and “that States, foundations and engaged business enterprises provide more support for the work of civil society organizations to improve the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including efforts to document human rights violations and to broadcast accessible information into each country.

Unlike prior administrations in South Korea, your administration took the unusual step to forcibly repatriate two North Koreans to conditions of danger and has not only ended all support but discouraged support for the civil society organizations that work to improve human rights in the DPRK and advocate for defectors in South Korea.  The announcement in July by the Ministry of Unification that it would conduct office inspections of 25 North Korean human rights and resettlement civil society organizations and demand an additional 64 accredited non-governmental organizations submit documentation is a chilling form of intimidation as they were all clearly targeted simply for their North Korea human rights work.

We respectfully request, as Americans who have a great respect for the people of Korea, that you reconsider your policies and do not again forcibly repatriate North Koreans to conditions of danger and that you review your policy of intimidating and harassing North Korean human rights organizations and instead help support their efforts to promote human rights for North Koreans.


Richard V. Allen, National Security Advisor for President Ronald Reagan and Deputy National Security Advisor for President Richard Nixon (helped rescue future ROK president Kim Dae Jung)

Roberta Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Department of State’s first human rights bureau for President Jimmy Carter

Ambassador Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for George W. Bush

Ambassador Robert R. King, Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President Barack Obama

Ambassador Winston Lord, Director of Policy Planning Staff at the State Department for President Gerald Ford and Special Assistant to the National Security Advisor for President Richard Nixon and Ambassador to China for President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W.Bush and Assistant Secretary of State for President William Clinton

Barton W. Marcois, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs for George W. Bush Administration

Honorable Tidal W. McCoy, Acting Secretary and Senior Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for President Ronald Reagan

Thomas C. Montgomery, Senior Vice President of Congressional Affairs at the Export-Import Bank of the United States for President George W. Bush

Andrew Natsios, Administrator, US Agency for International Development for President George W. Bush

Daniel Pipes, Policy Planning Staff for President Ronald Reagan

Gare Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor for President William Clinton

Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom during President Barack Obama’s Administration

Christian Whiton, Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications for State Department for President Donald Trump and Deputy Special Envoy for North Korea Human Rights for President George W. Bush

Nongovernmental organizations and private citizens joining in solidarity with the above signatories from the USA and Around the World:

Suzanne Scholte, President, Defense Forum Foundation

Tara O, President, East Asia Research Center

Dr. Jianli Yang, Founder and President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair at the American Enterprise Institute (title for identification purpose only)

Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK)

Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader, CSW-UK

Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign USA Inc

Deanna List of Virginia, North Korean Freedom Coalition (NKFC) Member

Wendy Wright, President, Christian Freedom International

Patrick Cheh of California, President, Waking Up Media, Producer of Crossing 

Atabongwoung Gallous of South Africa. Chairperson, NPO: Tibet Rescue Initiative in Africa; NKFC member

North Korea’s Potential Long-Term  Prison-Labor Facility at Sŏnhwa-dong (선화동)
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda Oh, & Rosa Park
Aug 26, 2021

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 P
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

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-

North Korea's Chŭngsan No. 11 Detention Facility
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., Greg Scarlatoiu, Amanda Oh, & Rosa Park
Dec 21, 2020

This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery to shed light on human suffering in the DPRK (more commonly known as North Korea) by monitoring activity at political prison and detention facilities throughout the nation. This study endeavors to both establish a preliminary baseline report and detail activities observed during 2002–2020 at a detention facility variously identified by former prisoners and researchers as the “Chŭngsan No. 11