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North Korea after Kim Jong-il: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

North Korea after Kim Jong-il: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

Kim Kwang Jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
2011

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North Korea today is in a state of power transition that could lead to new dangers, instability, and uncertainty.  This was not the case during the first succession.  Kim Jong-Il had been carefully groomed by his father to succeed him.  The process had gone on for twenty years and was directed by Kim Il-Sung himself.

In North Korea, all political power derives from Kim Il-Sung’s reign.  At the present, North Korea refers to itself as “Kim Il-Sung’s nation.”  In 1998, the North Korean Constitution was changed to enshrine Kim Il-Sung as the “eternal president,” even though he had been dead for four years.

Acting in his father’s name, Kim Jong-Il was able to seize and retain power.  His son, Kim Il-Sung’s grandson, must now do the same thing.  The regime knows that this basis for power succession cannot be used so easily again, and is rushing to tie the young man to his grandfather’s political legacy.

Even though it is clear that Kim Jong-Il has named his third son, Kim Jong-Eun, as the heir, there is no sure guarantee this time that it will work well.  Depending on how the succession proceeds and taking into account many unpredictable developments, a number of possibilities will arise.  Before the “next leader” of North Korea takes over, there may be turmoil, confusion, and unexpected rivalries.

Lives for Sale: Personal Accounts of Women Fleeing North Korea to China

Lives for Sale: Personal Accounts of Women Fleeing North Korea to China

Lee Hae Young
Oct 01, 2009

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This report calls the world’s attention to the suffering of North Korean women who have become the victims of trafficking and forced marriages after escaping their country to seek a new life in China. Seventy-seven interviews with North Korean women living in China yield 52 personal accounts--life stories of women who leave their home country for survival and safety only to be purchased by Chinese men who abuse and exploit them in China. In spite of finding places to live, North Korean women enter a maze of entrapping political and social difficulties that threaten not just the North Korean women themselves but also their children. The Chinese government defines them as “illegal economic migrants” and sends them back to North Korea where they are punished in prison camps and detention facilities. Lee Hae-young, a dedicated human rights activist, interviewed North Korean women through a series of trips to China, vividly illustrating how a combination of policy and practices on both sides of the border has created an ever widening web of exploitation and degradation of vulnerable women and their children. As troubling as the testimony of these eyewitnesses is, they are among the most fortunate women of North Korea, who have survived the North Korean famine and the perilous road of defection.

After Kim Jong II: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

After Kim Jong II: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?

Kim Kwang Jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
2009

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This report is part of HRNK’s “Occasional Papers,” expressing a viewpoint not necessarily representative of the Committee or its Board of Directors. Rather, this paper is written from the viewpoint of a courageous man who has seen the North Korean system from within and has participated in the workings of that system. The author knows how outcomes are produced in North Korea and which individuals are critical to the political process. Kim Kwang-jin provides an overview of the North Korean regime, stating that, due to Kim Jong-il’s fragile health, power transition is likely to take place in the near future. According to the author, Kim Jong-un, the third son of Kim Jong-il, will likely take up the vacant seat of power. Kim Kwang-jin proposes four different scenarios of hereditary succession: 1. Direct transfer of one-man rule to Kim Jong-eun. 2. Repetition of Kim Jong-il style dictatorship supported from behind the scenes by a collective regency. 3. Takeover by a single regent. 4. Military coup. The report formulates recommendations aiming to promote international involvement and to prepare a foundation for new policies in a post-Kim Jong-il North Korea. The report includes detailed profiles and headshot photographs of influential persons involved in the current power succession in North Korea.

Failure to Protect: The Ongoing Challenge of North Korea

Failure to Protect: The Ongoing Challenge of North Korea

DLA Piper
2008

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This report is a sequel to the previous report, “Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea” (2006), which called for the UN Security Council to take action. The report identifies concerns with respect to human rights in North Korea. While North Korea has opened up to some international aid, their food policy and inequitable social classification system (“Songbun”) prevents large segments of the population from ever receiving food provided by international and bilateral relief agencies. After the first “Failure to Protect” report, other research has drawn attention to the treatment of political dissenters, detailing North Korea’s continued use of political prison camps to brutally deny basic human rights. Findings also include North Korea’s continued reluctance to earnestly deal with the issue of its abduction of foreign citizens. The report addresses the outflow of refugees and spillover effects, which lead to the creation of a market of victims of trafficking, exploitation, and violence. The report concludes by addressing several policy recommendations to the international community.

Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea

Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
2007

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For over sixty years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has engaged in the systematic, flagrant violation of nearly every human right recognized and protected by international law. This handbook describes the options available to human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to pursue international legal action against North Korea. The international legal system offers a variety of avenues for action, which NGOs can pursue. This report explores such legal avenues, linking NGOs to a larger framework of international legal institutions. It identifies specific options available in the case of North Korea, explores ways to pursue available options, and analyses the practical advantages and difficulties of each one. By presenting practical information, this report attempts to illustrate how NGOs may conduct their own analysis for legal options most helpful to their respective challenges.

Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea

Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea

DLA Piper LLP
2006

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Czech Republic President Havel, Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik, and Nobel Peace Prize Laurate and Boston University Professor Elie Wiesel commissioned the global law firm DLA Piper LLP to work with the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, because they believed that the security threat posed by North Korea has relegated the human rights concerns in the country to a second-class status. With the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of the doctrine that each state has a “responsibility to protect” its own citizens from the most egregious of human rights abuses, this report presents the failure of the North Korean government to exercise its responsibility to protect its own people. Based on a comprehensive review of published information and first-hand interviews, this report concludes that North Korea has violated its responsibility to protect its own citizens from crimes against humanity being committed in the country, that North Korea has refused to accept prior recommendations from UN bodies to remedy the situation, and therefore, that UN Security Council action is warranted. In addition, the report explains that North Korea qualifies as a non-traditional threat to international peace and security and describes the country’s involvement in the production of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The North Korean Refugee Crisis: Human Rights and International Response

The North Korean Refugee Crisis: Human Rights and International Response

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland
2006

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Concentration on the strategic problem in the national security context is clearly warranted, yet there is another, growing dimension to the North Korean problem that poses a grave challenge: the plight of ordinary North Koreans who are denied even the most basic human rights, and those who risk their lives to escape the world’s worst nightmare, the tyranny of the Kim Jong-il regime. In this report, six experts – Stephen Haggard, Marcus Noland, Yoonok Chang, Joshua Kurlantzick, Jana Mason, and Andrei Lankov – examine in convincing detail the plight of those determined escapees and the problems they have after realizing that the border is only the preliminary hurdle. A study is conducted from August 2004 to September 2005 by 48 trained interviewers. A total of 1,346 refugees are interviewed in Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin, Yangbin, Tumen, Helong, Hunchun, Dandong, Jilin, Tonghua, and Wangqing to broadly reflect the characteristics of the North Korean refugee population and to enhance awareness of their current status. The study outlines who the refugees are, how representative they are of the North Korean population, and whether or not there are reasons to believe that their attitude or experiences may be systematically biased or distinct. The report also identifies the conflicting interests of China and attitude of South Korea towards the North Korean refugee crisis.

Hunger and Human Rights: The Politics of Famine in North Korea

Hunger and Human Rights: The Politics of Famine in North Korea

Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland
2005

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North Korea is well into its second decade of chronic food shortages. With plausible policy adjustments – such as maintaining food imports on commercial terms or aggressively seeking multilateral assistance – the government could have avoided the famine and the shortages that continue to plague the country. Instead, the regime blocked humanitarian aid to the hardest hit parts of the country during the peak of the famine and curtailed commercial imports of food once humanitarian assistance began. The DPRK stopped importing food and gradually reduced the purchase of grain to as low as one-tenth of the needed amount. After over one decade of humanitarian missions on the ground in North Korea, such programs are far from living up to international standards. We have no guarantee that aid is reaching the truly needy, and the communist regime consistently spoils any attempts to control its distribution. The report concludes that we have therefore to pose the question whether the ultimate result of humanitarian aid is the reinforcement of the North Korean regime.

The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps

The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea’s Prison Camps

David Hawk
2003

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A prominent human rights investigator and advocate, David Hawk, and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea compiled a full documentation of North Korean political prisoner camps. This report describes a number of penal institutions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) administered by two different North Korean police agencies: the In-min-bo-an-seong (People’s Safety Agency) and the more political Kuk-ga-bo-wi-bu (National Security Agency). The report outlines two distinct systems of repression: first, a North Korean gulag of forced-labor colonies, camps, and prisons where scores of thousands of prisoners – some political, some convicted felons – are worked, many to their deaths, in mining, logging, farming, and industrial enterprises, often in remote valleys located in the mountainous areas of North Korea; and second, a system of smaller, shorter-term detention facilities along the North Korea-China border used to brutally punish North Koreans who flee to China – usually in search of food, in particular during the North Korean famine of the mid to late 1990s – but are arrested by Chinese law enforcement agents and forcibly repatriated to the DPRK.

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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.