This Wednesday there’s an opportunity to hear about human rights abuses first-hand from North Korean escapees, in the Houses of Parliament.
The World’s Most Closed Nation: Exposing Crimes against Humanity in North Korea
Former Soldier in the North Korean Army
North Korean prison camp escapee
Parliamentary Candidate in South Korea for the Grand National Party and
Escaped North Korea in 2000
5.30 – 7pm, Wednesday 25th April 2012
Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
To attend please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The world’s most closed nation has recently celebrated the centenary of its founder, Kim Il Sung, known as ‘the Great Leader’, and marked his 29 year-old grandson Kim Jong Un’s succession to the leadership following the death of the ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong Il. The only dictatorship in the world that is both a dynasty and portrays itself as a deity, the Kim regime has presided over a nuclear programme and a recently failed satellite launch while its people starve. It issues dire threats to South Korea, and stands accused of money laundering, kidnapping and drug dealing. The severity of human rights violations inflicted by the regime on its people, however, rarely gets the attention it deserves.
North Korea is perhaps the most repressive country in the world, in which there is no space whatsoever for freedom of speech, assembly, movement, press, conscience or religion. No dissent is tolerated at all, and the regime controls the people through an extensive system of surveillance and propaganda. A network of prison camps, known as kwan-li-so and akin to Stalin’s gulags, keep an estimated 200,000 people behind bars in horrific conditions. Hundreds of thousands of prisoners have died due to starvation, inhumane living conditions or execution, and many more endure shocking torture and regular beatings. Whole families are jailed for the perceived political crimes of a relative, under a policy of ‘guilt by association’ that inflicts punishment on up to three generations. Human rights organisations conclude that North Korea is guilty of crimes against humanity, and are calling for an international investigation. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), drawing together over 40 NGOs from around the world, was launched in September 2011 and this week marks North Korea Freedom Week.
By kind invitation of Fiona Bruce MP, the Henry Jackson Society and Christian Solidarity Worldwide are pleased to invite you to a panel discussion with Kim Joo-il, Former Soldier in the North Korean Army; Shin Dong-hyuk, North Korean prison camp escapee; and Yun Tae-yang, Parliamentary Candidate in South Korea for the Grand National Party and North Korean escapee. This discussion on the horrendous abuses of human rights in North Korea marks North Korea Freedom Week 2012, and is a unique opportunity to hear personal experiences of life in North Korea and to establish what may be done to address these horrific abuses of human rights.
Kim Joo-Il is the Secretary General of the UK North Korean Residents Society, Vice-President of its EU partner organisation, and the EU correspondent for US Radio Free Asia. Born in North Korea, Kim Joo-Il is one of the few individuals who has managed to escape the country, having successfully defected in August 2005 after a lengthy career in the North Korean Military. He cites his main reason for leaving as his ‘disgust’ of the regime which provided no freedom or democracy and left millions dead in a series of famines. Now residing in the UK, Kim Joo-Il actively campaigns against the North Korean regime on a number of fronts, including through the UK and EU North Korean Free Defectors’ Organisations which he established.
Shin Dong-hyuk was born in 1982 in Camp Number 14 a notorious “total control zone” political prison camp located in Kaechon north of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Like all other prisoners Shin Dong-hyuk was expected to serve a life sentence and die in the camp. His only crime was that he was born as the child of prisoners. He lived in the camp until he was 23 years old. Within the camp, he was victim to torture, forced labour, deprivation from nutrition and medical care. Years of hard labour have left scars as well. At the age of 14, he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother who had tried to escape.
He escaped in 2005 at the age of 23 after hearing stories about the outside world from another prisoner and made his way to the North Korean – Chinese border in one month. He lived in hiding in China until he resettled in South Korea in 2006. His father remains in the camp, his fate unknown. Since Shin Dong-hyuk’s defection to South Korea he has become involved with human rights groups to bring about awareness concerning the atrocities occurring in North Korea. A new book about his life was published in March 2012: Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West.
Yun Tae-yang is the Secretary General at the Defectors’ Vision Corporation was an independent candidate in South Korea’s recent General Election. Originally from North Korea, Yun Tae-Yang spent many years undercover as a doctor, organising anti-establishment and democratisation activities. Eventually, in February 2000, he defected via China and Mongolia before being exiled to South Korea in the same year. Mr Yun places the North Korean regime’s violent actions, which resulted in the death of several members of his family, as his reason for leaving the country. Since then he has engaged in South Korean politics, standing multiple times for seats in elections for the Grand National Party and has established several organisations including the Unification Book Fair and the pro-unification newspaper ‘Saedongne’. Yun Tae-yang continues to pursue his cause of a peaceful and unified Korea, having lectured on regional security to the South Korean military, and through his involvement with defectors organisations.