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Articles by Board Members, Fellows and Staff

Nixon’s China Opening, 40 Years Later

Winston Lord, HRNK Board Member and Leslie Gelb
Feb 20, 2012

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Forty years after the triumphant summit in China, Leslie H. Gelb, then a diplomatic correspondent, and Winston Lord, then a Kissinger adviser, reflect on what Obama could learn from Nixon’s boldness and creativity. Plus, Winston Lord on Crafting the Shanghai Communique with Kissinger.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

Advancing Human Rights and the Prospect for Democracy in North Korea

Carl Gershman
Feb 16, 2012

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Address given at the Heung-in Medal award ceremony in Seoul on February 16, 2012 by Carl Gershman, medal recipient. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

The Magnanimous Comrade: Kim Jong-un’s Amnesty

Greg Scarlatoiu
Jan 16, 2012

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North Korea recently announced a special amnesty to prisoners, the first in over six years, to be issued beginning on February 1, in observance of Kim Jong-il’s birthday on February 16 and in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung. The announcement came only two days after the January 8 birthday of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s recently anointed leader. For the almost 63 years that have passed since its establishment, North Korea has been under the rule of three generations of the Kim clan. While his father had 20 years to prepare and was 52 years old when he assumed leadership in 1994, Kim Jong-un barely had 3 years to prepare, and is only 28 or 29 years old. Despite enjoying the protection of hardline senior, including his uncle Jang Sung-taek and aunt Kim Kyong-hui, and the apparent support of the Korean People’s Army, Workers’ Party and security agencies, experts’ predictions regarding his long-term survival are not buoyant…

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

North Korea: The American Dilemma

Jerome Cohen, HRNK Board Memeber
Jan 04, 2012

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This article was first published with some editing in the South China Morning Post on December 30, 2011 under the title “Engage, Don’t Isolate.” It was published in Chinese in the China Times (Taiwan) on December 29, 2011. Illustration from SCMP.

The December 19 announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death has stimulated another round of useful debate in the United States about how it and its South Korean and Japanese allies should deal with North Korea. Predictions about what is likely to happen under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un run the gamut, and suggested policies are just as diverse.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

Kim Jong Il: Road to Ruin

Nicholas Eberstadt, HRNK Board Member
Dec 21, 2011

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Eberstadt outlines North Korea’s descent into ruin through the disastrous economic policies of Kim Jong Il during his reign. It was under his rule that the country fell from economic competition with the South, to the status of a Fourth World country. Lacking the pragmatism of his father, Kim Jong Il’s selfish and idealistic views left a legacy of a ruined and degraded country.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

The Death of Kim Jong Il and North Korea’s Broken Dynasty

Nicholas Eberstadt, HRNK Board Member
Dec 20, 2011

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The subtitle of this article state ” How Dear Leader Blew the Transfer of Power.”, and Eberstadt goes on to outline just that.  Unlike Kim Il Sung, who invested almost  a quarter of a century into preparing his son for takeover, Kim Jong Il seemingly put little effort into preparing  current leader Kim Jong Eun. This article is an in-depth analysis of the rise to power of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Eun.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

Interview: Noland on the death of Kim Jong-il

Marcus Noland, HRNK Board Member
Dec 19, 2011

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Peterson Perspectives audio interview of Marcus Noland conducted by Steven Weisman on the death of Kim Jong-il and what the future of North Korea may hold.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

The Defector’s Tale: Inside North Korea’s Secret Economy

Kim Kwang Jin
Sep 01, 2011

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Following the collapse of the global socialist market in the early 1990s, an unexpected thing happened on North Korea’s road to financial oblivion: The same economy that cannot produce a usable toothbrush is now armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. I say this as someone who knows, having been involved, however obliquely, in providing the funds that made the atom splitting possible. There is much I still don’t know about my native land, but this much is clear to me: This central riddle of North Korea—advanced technology within abysmal backwardness—is wrapped in the mystery of its economic structure, and compounded by the enigma of Kim Jong-il’s opaque motives. My own involvement in the North Korean economy leads me to believe that an economic corpse has been able to produce such nuclear achievements by creating what is essentially a secret, invisible, firewalled financial system scavenging off the West, which Kim created to compensate for the collapse of the normal or “People’s Economy” of North Korea.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

North Koreans Starve while Washington Wavers

Morton Abromowitz
Jul 12, 2011

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Various US-based NGOs have investigated the food situation in North Korea and concluded that there is a pressing need for food aid. Their findings were corroborated by European counterparts, the EU, and the WFP. However, despite this, the US government has done little to address this problem, in part due to a lack of agreement regarding appropriate monitoring mechanisms. South Korea has also discouraged aid following the sinking of a South Korean vessel last year by the North, while the bulk of the rice sent by China is received by the political elite and not the most vulnerable groups.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).
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The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK).

THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EST WEDNESDAY DEC. 19, 2018. Denied from the Start: Human Rights at the Local Level in North Korea is a comprehensive study of how North Korea’s Kim regime denies human rights for each and every citizen of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In doing so, this report examines human rights denial policies and practices. Local institutions are responsible for this denial at the schools, housing units, workplaces, and beyon

In this submission, HRNK focuses its attention on the DPRK’s—  1. System of political imprisonment, wherein a multitude of human rights violations are evidenced, including enforced disappearance, amounting to crimes against humanity.  2. Restrictions on freedom of movement, affecting women in particular, as evidenced in sexual violence, human trafficking, and arbitrary detention.  3. Policy of social and political discrimination, known as “so

From Cradle to Grave: The Path of North Korean Innocents
Robert Collins and Amanda Mortwedt Oh
Nov 13, 2017

This paper draws on existing research and Robert Collins’ previous work to explain the ideological basis and institutional structure of the Kim regime’s rule of terror, with an emphasis on the political prison camps. It is intended to provide a brief overview of how North Korea’s party-state controls every individual’s life from the cradle to the grave through relentless indoctrination, surveillance, and punishment. Specifically, it seeks to answer the following questions: What so

The Parallel Gulag: North Korea's
David Hawk with Amanda Mortwedt Oh
Oct 26, 2017

In this book, David Hawk provides never-before-seen imagery of labor re-education camps, both suspected and confirmed. He reveals a parallel network of prisons controlled by the DPRK’s Ministry of People’s Security (An-jeon-bu). These revelations suggest the imposition of degrees of suffering even more pervasive than the UN COI described in 2014. Although these labor camps might be described as “ordinary prisons”, there is nothing “ordinary” in the treatment of those i

North Korea Camp No. 25 Update 2
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Andy Dinville, and Mike Eley
Nov 29, 2016

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 9.0px Helvetica; color: #3f5864} span.s1 {font: 5.0px Helvetica} As part of a joint undertaking with HRNK to use satellite imagery to shed light on human suffering in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea), AllSource Analysis has been monitoring activity at political prison facilities throughout North Korea. This report details activity observed during the past

North Korea: Flooding at Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, Jongo-ri
Greg Scarlatoiu and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.
Sep 16, 2016

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC and AllSource Analysis, a leading global provider of high-resolution earth imagery solutions, have conducted a satellite imagery-based rapid assessment of flood damage at Kyo-hwa-so No. 12, Jongo-ri in Hamgyŏng-bukto, North Korea. Thousands of political prisoners are held in this re-education prison labor camp together with common offenders.