North Korean defectors irked by repeated investigations in South Korea

October 1, 2020
Hanawon. Korea Times file
Hanawon. Korea Times file

On 1 October 2020 Kang Seung-woo for the Korean Times reveals a pattern of harassment of North Korean defectors in South Korea: “North Korean defectors irked by repeated human rights investigations

It seems that North Korean defectors are plagued by repeated questioning by South Korean organizations into human rights conditions in their former country. When those who defect from the totalitarian state arrive in South Korea, they have to face three rounds of interrogation, being forced to answer almost identical questions repeatedly and suffering emotional distress in the process. The three interrogations are made by the unification ministry’s Center for North Korean Human Rights Records, the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Seoul. In fact, until last year, there were four institutes investigating into the human rights situation in the North (by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB), a non-governmental organization).

According to the unification ministry, the number of North Korean defectors coming into the South recorded an all-time low in the second quarter this year, at 12, due to the North’s tightened border control amid the coronavirus pandemic. The government is also aware of the difficulty that the defectors face. “It is no doubt that North Korean defectors are forced to repeat stories of their past bitter memories of human rights violations,” a ministry official said.

In order to prevent suffering from repeated questioning, the government this year reduced the number of defectors undergoing these interviews by 30 percent compared to previous years, although it did not disclose exactly how many people are subject to the interrogations. In addition, the government canceled its contract with the NKDB, which refused to accept the reduction in the number of research subjects.

However, some claim that the government should come up with more reliable and detailed investigation results.  See also;

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