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Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un take part in a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan. 8, 2019. Xinhua/Shen Hong via Getty Images

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics were notable for the absence of Western politicians and officials, the result of a diplomatic boycott to protest China’s reprehensible treatment of Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group in its Xinjiang province. What the boycott ignores is that Beijing is complicit in North Korea’s horrific human rights abuses as well. Because the two countries’ abuses are inextricably linked, it is essential that U.S. North Korea policy focuses on China’s role in sustaining the crimes of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s family against the North Korean people.

For example, China is complicit in the fates of thousands of North Koreans who try to flee across the 882-mile border between the two countries each year.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past a television screen at Suseo railway station in Seoul on March 26 showing news footage of North Korea's latest tactical guided missile test. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

On Thursday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast, calling these a “new type of tactical guided missile.” This latest provocation, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that bans Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests, follows combative rhetoric and actions in recent weeks.

North Korean officials issued a statement criticizing U.S.-ROK military exercises this month, warning the Biden administration not to “cause a stink” as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Japan for their first official trip to Asia. And North Korea fired two short-range cruise missiles last weekend — a move the United States and South Korea downplayed in an apparent effort not to overhype the tests.…  Seguir leyendo »

La conculcación masiva de los derechos humanos supone una amenaza a la paz y la seguridad internacionales, tal como han sentenciado diversos órganos de Naciones Unidas. Sin embargo, la paz no estriba solo en la ausencia de guerra. La paz ha de ser justa. Una paz de esa naturaleza en la península coreana exigiría no sólo la liquidación del chantaje nuclear que realiza Pyongyang sino también el fin de la pavorosa situación que padece buena parte del pueblo norcoreano, víctima de prácticas atroces, calificadas por la ONU, la UE y otros actores internacionales de crímenes de lesa humanidad. Se trata de un gobierno que firmó el Tratado de No Proliferación de Armas Nucleares para obtener beneficios económicos y comerciales y del que se retiró cuando le vino en gana.…  Seguir leyendo »

In convening to discuss North Korea's horrifying human rights record, the U.N. Security Council shined a spotlight this month on systematic abuses that continue to shock the civilized world. It also pointed to the growing international attention focused on the North Korean plight. No longer concerned only with Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and its routine provocations, the world is increasingly turning its gaze to the way in which Kim Jong Un's regime enforces its brutal rule.

The evidence of the country's abuses continues to mount. Verifying what exactly is happening in North Korea is notoriously difficult. But as defectors leave the North for China, South Korea and other countries, their testimony -- backed by the accounts of former Pyongyang officials and satellite imagery -- convey a tale of terrors.…  Seguir leyendo »

Our world is overflowing with mind-numbing acts of brutality that civilized people had come to assume had been consigned to the history of the Middle Ages. Women are too often the first to be brutalized. In Nigeria, Boko Haram extremists kidnapped hundreds of girls. In Iraq, hundreds and possibly thousands of Yazidi girls and women were abducted, enslaved, abused or slaughtered. Elsewhere, women of Christian, Muslim, atheist and other beliefs continue to be targets of unspeakable crimes and humiliations. Beyond an occasional hashtag campaign, the world has done precious little to come to their rescue.

Now comes word that a group of activists, led by feminist icon Gloria Steinem, will take action in an effort to change the status quo on the Korean Peninsula.…  Seguir leyendo »

Warning: Graphic. In this chilling drawing released to the United Nations, former North Korean prisoner Kim Kwang-Il details torture methods he witnessed during his time in captivity. In this position, called "pigeon torture," Kim says he was beaten on the chest until he vomited blood.

In North Korea's utopian society, the very words "human rights" do not need to exist -- because it's so perfect, the regime maintains.

The North Korean regime controls and monitors the usage of the very words. The concept is not even taught. I had never even heard of the term "human rights" when I was in North Korea.

It also strongly denies the existence of the political prison camp system throughout the country.

It maintains this position even though I was born in the most infamous, political prison camp in North Korea: Camp 14. Even now, there are people who are born into a life of an inmate in a political prison camp.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korea is in the news again for the same old reason — nuclear tests. The United Nations Security Council was right to pass a resolution; the world is right to be deeply concerned.

There is also another reason to take action on North Korea: It has possibly the worst human rights record in the world. In the world’s most oppressed nation, there is no freedom of speech or religion; in the world’s most closed nation, no freedom of information; in the world’s darkest nation, little light, politically, spiritually and even physically. If you look at a satellite map of the Korean Peninsula, the South is lit up brightly; the North, where electricity is almost as scarce as hope, the map is almost completely black.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Americans celebrate President Obama’s second inaugural and Martin Luther King Jr. Day — events that symbolize the power of human freedom and perseverance against oppression — for many others such freedom is a distant dream. Among the most repressive countries in the world, North Korea holds as many as 200,000 people in the vast gulag system known as the kwan-li-so. Under the guilt-by-association system established during the dictatorship of Kim Il Sung more than 50 years ago, real and imagined dissenters and as many as three generations of their relatives are punished to eliminate “the seeds” of bad families. Those imprisoned have almost no hope for release, and it is nearly impossible to escape the camps, meaning these people are almost guaranteed to die as prisoners.…  Seguir leyendo »

Joining my 9-year-old daughter and a sizable slice of the American population, I queued up last week to watch"The Hunger Games."My daughter had just read the book and was giddy with excitement. Reviewers had reassured me that scenes in the film showing children fighting each other to the death on orders of a totalitarian state had been carefully edited.

Still, the movie turned my stomach — and not because of what I saw on the screen. What flashed through my mind were images of North Korea. There, in a real totalitarian state, children are bred like livestock in labor camps. They are taught to betray their parents.…  Seguir leyendo »

The now-defunct six-party talks in which the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and China participated focused almost exclusively on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. But with a struggle for succession underway in Pyongyang and some of the country's internal controls reportedly beginning to erode, it's time to rethink the near-exclusion of human rights from the U.S.-North Korean dialogue.

The fear of raising human rights issues has been based largely on the belief that doing so would distract from efforts to disable North Korea's nuclear weapons program. But past negotiations focused narrowly on nuclear weapons have not produced sustainable outcomes, and they are unlikely to do so in the future unless they are grounded in a broader and more solid framework.…  Seguir leyendo »

By my count, at least five former high-level Bush administration officials are deeply disillusioned with the current policy on North Korea.

This brewing discontent broke into open revolt two weeks ago when Jay Lefkowitz, the special envoy on North Korean human rights, committed the gaffe of stating the obvious: North Korea is not serious about nuclear disarmament. The current six-party talks will do little to change that fact. And the price we are paying to pursue those talks is silence about the suffering of a brutalized, friendless people.

Afterward, even some of Lefkowitz's supporters complained that he had ventured "out of his lane."…  Seguir leyendo »

Two weeks ago, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the U.S. lead in the six-party talks, went to Pyongyang for a sudden and highly secret meeting with North Korean officials. But even if we get closer to breaking the impasse over the North's nuclear possessions and ambitions, the problem of North Korean human rights will loom large as the world continues to learn about the starvation, lack of political and religious freedoms, mass imprisonment, executions, infanticide and other horrors occurring in North Korea.

The lack of access to information about human rights problems is one obstacle. Another is the multifaceted nature of the problems and the diversity of human rights actors, claims and political agendas.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Nicholas Eberstadt, on the board of the United States Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and Christopher Griffin, a research associate at the American Enterprise Institute (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19/02/07):

THE Bush administration can point to precious few successes in its efforts to curb North Korea’s mounting menace — even last week’s celebrated nuclear deal with Kim Jong-il’s government is, for the moment, little more than a written promise from a highly unreliable negotiating partner.

Yet inexplicably, the Bush team continues to overlook a spectacular opportunity to deliver freedom to tens of thousands of North Koreans, to pressure the country from within for fundamental change and to lay the groundwork for a peaceful, reunified Korean Peninsula.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Vaclav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic, Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former prime minister of Norway and Elie Wiesel, a professor of humanities at Boston University, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 30/10/06):

WHILE the focus in recent weeks has been on North Korea’s nuclear test, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the government there is also responsible for one of the most egregious human-rights and humanitarian disasters in the world today.

For more than a decade, many in the international community have argued that to focus on the suffering of the North Korean people would risk driving the country away from discussions over its nuclear program.…  Seguir leyendo »