North Korea atrocities exposed, but what next?

9 11 2015

NK GULAG(SEOUL, Agence France Presse, February 18, 2014) Defectors and activists welcomed Tuesday a UN-mandated inquiry’s searing indictment of gross human rights abuses in North Korea, but analysts questioned the international community’s ability to act on its recommendations.

Pyongyang’s grim rights record has already been well documented by specialist monitors. But the size, breadth and detail of the report compiled by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on North Korea – and the UN imprimatur it carries – set it apart.

Kim Young-Soon, one of the many defectors who provided harrowing testimony to the COI, said she was grateful to the commission for recording the “nightmares we went through” for posterity.

“North Korea has not and will never admit the existence of prison camps and this report won’t change anything overnight,” Mrs Kim told AFP.

“But that does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. We need to keep collecting testimony so that someday it can be used as undisputed evidence to punish those behind the atrocities,” she added.

Now 77, Mrs Kim was a well-connected member of the North Korean elite in 1970, when she was suddenly dragged off to a labour camp as part of a purge of people who knew about the then-future leader Kim Jong-Il’s affair with a married actress.

So began a nine-year ordeal in what Mrs Kim described to the COI as “the most hellish place in the world” where inmates worked from dawn to dusk, supplementing starvation rations with anything they could catch, including snakes, salamanders and rats.

‘My heart still aches’

Family contacts managed to get Kim released in 1979. In 2001, she bribed her way across the border with China and eventually made it to Seoul in 2003, where she works as a dance teacher and lectures on life in North Korea.

“My heart still aches and I still wake up at night sweating just thinking about the prison camp I was in and family members I lost,” she said Tuesday.

The COI report detailed murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence in North Korea, which chairman Michael Kirby said carried echoes of the Nazi Holocaust.

A key conclusion was that many of the violations “constitute crimes against humanity”.

Hong Soon-Kyung, a defector who now heads the Seoul-based Committee for the Democratization of North Korea, told AFP that no report could truly reflect the brutality of the regime in the North.

Although the COI’s findings were nothing new to those working on North Korean rights issues, Hong said their publication was a “very meaningful step” with a UN mandate that would help pressure Pyongyang and its few backers.

North Korea refused to cooperate with the commission, claiming its evidence was “fabricated” by “hostile” forces.

The COI panel said that North Korea’s leaders should be brought before an international court for a litany of crimes against humanity – a recommendation that many observers suggested was wishful thinking.

Any substantive action on the part of the world community would require the participation of the North’s key ally China, which has made clear it opposes any move to refer the Pyongyang leadership to the International Criminal Court.

Perpetual emergency

Noted North Korea watcher Leonid Petrov said there was no simple solution in the current context of a diplomatically isolated, totalitarian state whose leadership is intent on survival at all costs.

The issue of rights abuses “cannot be resolved unilaterally, nor swiftly, without transforming the political climate of the whole region”, said Mr Petrov, a researcher at Australia National University.

This would require, he argued, formally ending the Korean War – which concluded in 1953 with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty – as well as diplomatic recognition of North Korea and the lifting of sanctions imposed for its nuclear programme.

Otherwise the North would remain in a “perpetual and assiduously cultivated state of emergency” in which human rights were sacrificed on the altar of regime survival.

“Without the goodwill of regional policy makers to address the problem of the Korean War especially, the issue of human rights in Korea is unlikely to be resolved,” Mr Petrov added.

Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN and a regular visitor to North Korea, said China would “probably” veto any attempt by the UN Security Council to give the “devastating” COI report any binding legal weight.

But he questioned the notion that North Korea is impervious to such criticism.

“It’s an isolated, unpredictable country,” Mr Richardson told the BBC, but the shockwaves from the report “could be a source of pressure for moderates in Pyongyang who realise that there have to be some changes”.

A Friendly Advice to U.N. Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea

17 02 2014

ImageOn the 7th February, I met with Hon. Justice Michael Kirby, a former Australian High Court judge and current chair of UN Commission of Inquiry in Human Rights in North Korea.

Answering Justice Kirby’s question regarding the best way to reach out to the DPRK’s leadership, Christopher Richardson and I recommended preambling the COI’s report with allusions to the deep historical and political roots of North Korean behaviour: i.e. the legacy of colonialism, wartime brutality, a Cold War mentality, and mistrust of the international community. These problems are characteristic of all Northeast Asia, but Korea, at its pivotal point, has harboured the most extreme human rights violations as a result. This problem cannot be resolved unilaterally, nor swiftly, without transforming the political climate of the whole region: that is to say, ending the Korean War, diplomatically recognising the DPRK, lifting economic sanctions against it, and improving all forms of exchange with the North. In a perpetual and assiduously cultivated ‘state of emergency,’ the North believes regime survival justifies any means, even at the expense of human rights.

Whether this can be changed, or not, depends on politicians in Pyongyang, Seoul, Washington, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo. Without the goodwill of regional policy makers to address the problem of the Korean War especially, the issue of Human Rights in Korea is unlikely to be resolved. We noticed that the DPRK had withdrawn its invitation to US Special Envoy for Human Rights, Robert King, who had been seeking to negotiate the release of Rev. Kenneth Bae. Neither the DPRK government is willing to invite UN Committee of Inquiry lead by Justice Kirby. Clearly, such dialogue has a long way to go.

Invoking contextual issues does not absolve North Korea’s leadership of responsibility, yet acknowledging them may encourage a greater degree of openness towards dialogue. The DPRK must see that its future development depends upon evolving beyond the legacies and pathologies of history, of Japanese colonialism, the Korean War and Cold War.

The 9th International Conference on NK Human Rights & Refugees

24 03 2009

mel-conference-posterMarch 20-21, 2009 – Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Venue: Hyatt Hotel 123 Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia

Organizers: Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, The Australian Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

250 delegates from Australia and overseas attended the opening of the 9th international conference on human rights in North Korea at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt Hotel (20 March), opened by Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith (click here). Carl Gershman, the Chair of the National Endowment for Democracy gave an overview of the campaign for human rights in North Korea to the opening of the conference. (click here).

Co-orginsers of the Conference, Michael Danby, Chair of the Commonwealth Parliament’s sub comittee on Foreign Affairs and Prof. Won of the Citizens’ Alliance told an Australia wide radio audience (click here) what had emerged at the Conference about the most recent developments on human rights in North Korea.

Senator Michael Forshaw Chairman of the JSCFADT chaired an intensive session for international experts at the Australian Insitute of International Affairs that included several South Korean, Japanese and Australian MPs.

Foreign Editor Greg Sheridan drilled down into the horrors of the 300 000 prisoners in Kim Jong-Il’s labour camps (The Australian 31/3 click here) and Thailand’s leading reporter Kavi Chongkittavorn attended and reported on the conference in Bankok’s leading newspaper The Nation (click here).

Delegates to the conference were taken aback by UN Special Rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn’s powerful summary of his official report just delivered in Geneva derscribing the siutation of human rights in North Korea (for a Radio Australia interview with Mr Vitit click here).

Finally in a sign that the conference must have achieved some good, its aims were denounced by the DPRK newsagency (click here). The conference was also covered on SBS News (click here), and ABC International which will be put on Youtube soon.

The ninth International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees in Melbourne on Friday accused North Korea of grave abuses and discussed ways to improve the situation. The conference was organized jointly by the South Korean Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights and the Australian Committee for Human Rights in North Korea under the joint sponsorship of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, and the Chosun Ilbo.

One participant pointed out that international humanitarian aid to the North has not been properly distributed to the North Korean residents, children in particular. Joanna Hosaniak, the senior program officer for international cooperation for CANKHR, interviewed 40 North Korean children and juveniles and 10 adults in the South between 2001 and 2008 and heard that none of them had received rice sent by South Korea or the international community during this period. They said they had instead seen grain sacks marked “Republic of Korea,” “UN,” or “Red Cross” sold on the market.

They said food supplied by South Korea is given to the military on a priority basis and the rest sold to moneyed military officers or Party members in the market. Only a small amount of food is distributed to the general public at slightly lower than the market price.

Some 2.55 million tons of rice and 200,000 tons of corn were delivered to the North during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations. None of the 50 said they had either received or seen meat or canned fish, which the UN had supplied to the North for children and pregnant women, between 2001 and 2007.

Chosun Ilbo (“CONFERENCE TOLD OF N.KOREA ABUSE OF FOOD AID”, Seoul , 2009/03/23)

The Conference also screened a documentary “On the Border”, which was produced by the Chosun Ilbo on North Korean refugees and has recently won the Prize award in the English-language TV category at the 13th Annual Human Rights Press Awards.

Chosun Ilbo (“N.Korea Film Wins Human Rights Press Awards”, Seoul, 2009/03/24)

Американский беженец в КНДР

29 11 2008

Пока обсуждается вопрос о том, как помочь северокорейскому беженцу арестованному в России, предлагаю посмотреть документальный фильм "Перейдя черту" об американском беженце в КНДР.

В 1962 г. двадцатилетний американец Джеймс Дрезнок, служивший рядовым в Южной Корее, во время несения караульной службы в Демилитаризованной Зоне (ДМЗ) однажды решил пересечь линию фронта и попасть в северную часть страны. Арестованный северными корейцами, Дрезнок неожиданно для себя стал превым американским военнослужащим, перебежавшим в КНДР и превратившимся в инструмент коммунистической пропаганды. Этот документальный фильм посвящен жизни Джеймса Дрезнока в Северной Корее и его отношениях с тоталитарным режимом.

Фильм интересен тем, что позволяет взглянуть на повседневную жизнь в КНДР глазами местного жителя, который когда-то был иностранцем. Оказавшись в этой стране в молодости из любопытства, Дрезнок невольно превратился в пожизненного заключённого. И хотя фильм начинается его словами о том, что за все эти годы он "ни минуты не жалел что попал в КНДР", на самом деле фильм оставляет обратное впечатление.  

Созданный в 2006 г. британским документалистом Даниэлом Гордоном, этот фильм продолжает повествование об интересных людях, живущих в Северной Корее. Первые два фильма Гордона, "Игра их жизни" (2002) и "Душевное состояние" (2004), произвели сенсацию во многих странах Запада и получили заслуженное признание. 

Фильм "Перейдя черту" на английском языке можно посмотреть в стриме здесь

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:


Кто заступится за Рю Ен Нама?

28 11 2008

В России стало на одного нелегального эмигранта больше. В июне этого года приморские пограничники обнаружили неизвестного, пересекавшего вплавль государственную границу РФ со стороны КНР близ села Игнашино Сковородинского района. Им оказался Рю Ен Нам, гражданин КНДР. Как выяснилось, сначала северный кореец бежал в Китай, куда также попал нелегально. Однако конечной целью его маршрута была Россия, где он хотел обосноваться и заработать.

Из Северной Кореи легальным путем попасть на работу в Россию непросто. Для этого нужно завербоваться на лесоповал или в строительную бригаду. Процедура эта требует множество разрешений и проверок на лояльность режиму, что без знакомств и взяток практически невозможно. Даже попав на работу в Россию, существенную часть заработанных средств (30-40%) работникам положено сдавать бригадиру, который затем отправляет собранное в КНДР своему начальству. Кому конкретно попадают эти деньги – можно лишь догадываться. Поэтому северные корейцы, работающие в Приморском и Хабаровском краях, стараются сделать всё возможное, чтобы "уйти в свободное плавание" и работать подальше от глаз начальства. 

Некоторые из них предпочитают более простой, но более опасный путь. В КНДР самовольный уход в соседнюю страну обычно расценивают как измену Родине. За такой проступок Рю Ен Наму теперь грозит смертная казнь. Более того, власти могут покарать и всю его семью. Незаконно пересекшего российскую границу гражданина КНДР, 27 октября 2008 г. Сковородинский районный суд приговорил к 6 месяцам колонии общего режима. Это значит, что ближайшие полгода Рю Ен Нам проведет в России. После этого, согласно взаимной договорённости между РФ и КНДР об обмене лиц скрывающихся от правосудия, он будет насильно репатриирован и, скорее всего, казнён.

Помочь этому человеку могут немногие. Среди вероятных заступников, по всей видимости, окажется Светлана Ганнушкина, председатель Комитета “Гражданское содействие”, которая занимается оказанием помощи беженцам, попавшим в трудные ситуации. История помощи Комитета другому гражданину КНДР в ноябре 2007 г. описана здесь. Однако, время не терпит. Если в срок наказания будет включено время, которое Рю Ен Нам уже находился под стражей, то его репатриация может состояться уже в начале 2009 г.  Для того чтобы задержать или отменить передачу беженца северокорейским властям, потребуется огромная работа. Необходимо участие юристов-правозащитников, которые могли бы встретиться с самим Рю Ен Намом для определения линии его защиты. Есть ли заинтересованные в этом люди и средства – остаётся пока неясным. Так заступится ли кто-нибудь за Рю Ен Нама? 

Пока, участие в его судьбе проявил elmor 
Постарайтесь разослать это послание по ЖЖ своим знакомым. А вдруг поможет?

Связваться с Комитетом “Гражданское содействие” можно по Тел.: (499) 973-54-74, (499) 973-54-43, (495) 251-53-19 (факс)

См. историю о злоключениях другого беженца – российского корейца здесь…


“North Korea: A Day In The Life”

19 11 2008

human_rights_film_festival_posterCanberra’s inaugural Human Rights Arts and Film Festival will screen for three nights from Thursday 20 November at the Finkel Theatre, Australian National University. The festival will showcase a bold collection of award-winning Australian and international films, introduced by human rights experts.  For full program details and to buy tickets, visit

North Korea: A Day In The Life (The Netherlands, 48 min.) will be screened on Saturday 22 November at 6.30pm.

Guest speaker: Dr Leonid Petrov, ANU

In this narration-less documentary the family of Hong Sun Hui, a female worker in a textile factory, is taking us through an ordinary day in the country of the Beloved Leader Kim Jong Il. The people undergo an endless stream of propaganda. Unmoved, they perform their duty. At the nursery school, Hong’s daughter learns that ‘flowers need the sun and she needs the love of the Great Leader to grow’. The system of indoctrination, control and self-criticism seems both frightening and ridiculous. Although unexpected, an escape is underway: English lessons for Hong’s brother seem to bring a spark of hope. But ‘Internet’ is still just a word: it means International Network!

Thursday 20 November
In Our Backyard – Australian Shorts Session
Guest speaker: Professor George Williams, University of NSW
Opening Night Drinks 5.45pm, screening 6.30pm

Friday 21 November
The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
Guest speaker: the film’s Emmy-Award winning director, Lisa Jackson
Screening 6.30pm

Saturday 22 November – Short Film Double-Bill
North Korea: A Day In The Life (The Netherlands)
Please Vote For Me
Guest speaker: Dr Leonid Petrov, ANU
Screening 6.30pm followed by Closing Night Drinks

Venue: Finkel Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Building 54c, Garran Road, ANU (map)