Posts Tagged ‘North Korean defectors’

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; https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/08/un-archive-on-north-korean-human-rights-violations-to-be-established-in-geneva/

UN representative in South Korea sees balloon actions as freedom of expression

June 29, 2020

The World Tribune of 28 June 2020 reports on the fight sparked by North Korean defectors sending balloons with leaflets to their former homeland, which has brought both Koreas once again to the brink of war. Now Signe Poulsen, head of the Seoul office of the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, has stated that sending the leaflets is an exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

In this April 29, 2016 file photo, members of a South Korean civic group send leaflets denouncing the North Korean regime in Tanhyeon, Paju, near the North Korean border. / Korea Times photo by Choi Won-Suk

Both the North and South Korean governments have threatened the defectors in the South who have sought to counter communist “fake news” by sending real news North over the DMZ. The leaflets also often contain U.S. one-dollar bills and USB memory sticks meant to encourage North Koreans to pick up the leaflets.

Now the defectors have been targeted by hastily-passed legislation forbidding the practice. Poulsen made the remarks amid heightening tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the North threatened to retaliate against the South for what it called Seoul’s “connivance” at the floating of anti-Pyongyang materials in large balloons.

The government of South Korean President Moon Jae-In, sought to legislate a ban on leafleting and filed a criminal complaints against two defector groups who carry out such launches, the Korea Times reported on June 23. The provincial government of Gyeonggi, located near the border with the North and where a lot of leafleting takes places, issued an administrative order last week banning the entry into border areas to fly leaflets.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/04/21/the-interview-sequel-plays-at-the-korean-border/

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balloon_propaganda_campaigns_in_Korea

https://www.worldtribune.com/un-official-upholds-defectors-freedom-of-expression-under-attack-by-both-koreas/

‘The Interview’ Sequel plays at the Korean Border

April 21, 2015

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) of 20 April 2015 contains an interesting and detailed piece by Paul Bond who went with the Human Rights Foundation on a trip to South Korea, to see how defector send films, television shows, books, and offline versions of Wikipedia into North Korea. The experience inspired nine articles, all of them published on THR’s website, but the centerpiece is this one: ‘The Interview’ Sequel: Inside the Frightening Battle Raging on the North Korean Border’.  The articles all together give an interesting picture of the powerful role that film can play in the case of closed societies where there is hardly any internet (here North Korean), but also how the South Korean authorities out of fear for retaliation limit the human rights defenders’ actions.

Left: U.S. resident Thor Halvorssen filled bags with The Interview,leaflets and American music to be ballooned into North Korea but was stopped April 9 by South Korean police. Right: Lee Min Bok prepared a balloon with Interview,Zero Dark Thirtyand U.S. dollars but was prevented from launching it by two guards.

 

To trick North Korean authorities, Interview begins with state propaganda clips before switching abruptly to a 12-minute subtitled edit of Interview — a bit from the beginning, middle and end, with the more vulgar parts removed.

For the full article please go to: ‘The Interview’ Sequel: Inside the Frightening Battle Raging on the North Korean Border – Hollywood Reporter.

 

North Korea: the UN report in images

February 20, 2014

There was considerable attention in the media for the new United Nation report that has found that crimes against humanity are occurring in North Korea and calls for an international tribunal to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, but you may have missed the 14-minute video produced by Human Rights Watch on 17 February 2014. The report, by a UN Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013, recommends that the UN Security Council refer the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights carry out investigations. The three person commission, which was chaired by Australian jurist Michael Kirby, will formally present its findings to the Human Rights Council on or around March 17, 2014. The council will then consider a resolution to act on the commission’s recommendations.

China responds regarding the return of refugees to North Korea

June 3, 2013

With regard to the defectors sent back from Laos via China to North Korea – on which I reported a few days ago – it is interesting to note the reaction by China which has expressed anger at the criticism by two UN High Commissioners (for human rights and refugee): “We hope that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN does not make irresponsible remarks based on unspecified news,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei, but also appeared to distance itself from the repatriation by saying the refugees had passed through the country with “valid documents and visas”. “In the whole process, China has not received a request by any party to assist in the repatriation of these persons“.

via China rebukes UN agency over North Korean refugees – Yahoo!7.