The Human Rights Factor: Changes Under Kim Jong-un

By Amanda Mortwedt Oh, HRNK Project Officer


Introduction

North Korea’s human rights landscape is changing since Kim Jong-un came to power at the end of 2011, as evidenced by: 1) decreased refugee flows to South Korea; 2) increased information infiltration into North Korea; 3) increased international pressure concerning human rights violations; 4) North Korea’s responses to international criticism for its human rights policies and practices; and 5) the growing nexus between security and human rights.


In February 2014, three UN commissioners—Michael Donald Kirby of Australia, Sonja Biserko of Serbia, and Marzuki Darusman, the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea—released a report finding, based on a “reasonable grounds” standard, that “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, its institutions and officials.” The commissioners collected evidence and heard witness testimony of crimes committed by North Korean officials that “shocked the conscience of humanity.” They stated that based on the body of testimony—almost 300 victims and expert witnesses were interviewed publicly and privately—and other information, “crimes against humanity have been committed in [North Korea], pursuant to policies established at the highest levels of the State.” The commissioners called on North Korea to undertake profound reforms to provide its citizens with basic human rights, including the recommendation that North Korea first “acknowledge the existence of human rights violations, including the political prison camps.” 

Despite this historical undertaking, the current state of human rights in North Korea is bleak. Nevertheless, there are some changes on the human rights landscape that should be considered by the North Korea “community of interest”—including policymakers, UN member states, advocates, researchers, and intelligence and security officials—because of the potential presented by the human rights factor.

Current State of Human Rights Under Kim Jong-un

North Korea is a dynastic, totalitarian state ruled by the Kim family for over 60 years. Marshal Kim Jong-un has been the “Suryong” (Supreme Leader) since just after his father’s death in December 2011. Although many people hoped Kim Jong-un would be more tolerant and reasonable than his father and grandfather before him, he has, by some accounts, been far more “aggressive, arrogant and impulsive.”[1] As the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea’s (HRNK’s) Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu puts it:

After all, he was likely chosen to be leader of North Korea despite being the youngest of three sons not because he was seen as a potential reformer, but because he was the one son most likely to follow in his father’s footsteps. …[D]uring his first four and a half years at the helm, Kim Jong-un purged all four fundamental building blocks of the regime: the Korean People’s Army; the Workers’ Party (in particular, the Administrative Department); the internal security agencies; and the inner core of the Kim family (to an unprecedented extent, through the execution of Jang Sung-taek, his own uncle…).[2]

Five Trends

Based on research conducted by HRNK, five trends have defined the human rights situation under the Kim Jong-un regime:

1)   An aggressive purge of senior officials, aimed to consolidate the leader’s grip on power. According to South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se, at least 70 senior officials had been executed in North Korea as of July 2015.

2)   A “restructuring” of the political prison camp system, with some facilities, closer to the border with China, being shut down, while inland facilities have been expanded. An example of this is Camp 22 in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, which has been closed. In the process of closing Camp 22 and transferring prisoners to other detention facilities, 23,000 inmates went unaccounted for.[3]

3)   Disproportionate oppression of women, who have assumed primary responsibility for the survival of their families; thus, women represent the majority of those arrested for perceived wrongdoing at the “jangmadang” (markets) or for “illegally” crossing the border;

4)   The sustained, if not increased, economic importance of the political prison camps. For example, many prisoners are forced to mine in or around the camps, which provides the regime with income from iron ore, coal, and various minerals; and

5)     An intensive crackdown on attempted defections.

Decreased Refugee Flows to South Korea

North Korean Refugees in South Korea[4]
Year/
’98
’01
’02
’03
’04
’05
’06
’07
’08
’09
’10
’11
’12
’13
’14
’15
’16.6
합계/
Total
Classification
Male
831
565
510
474
626
424
515
573
608
662
591
795
404
369
305
251


Female
116
478
632
811
1,272
960
1,513
1,981
2,195
2,252
1,811
1,911
1,098
1,145
1,092
1,025


Total
947
1,043
1,142
1,285
1,898
1,384
2,028
2,554
2,803
2,914
2,402
2,706
1,502
1,514
1,397
1,276
749
29,544
*Yellow boxes indicate numbers of North Korean Refugees in South Korea under Kim Jong-un (as of June 2016).

Under Kim Jong-un, fewer North Koreans have escaped to South Korea, as compared to the preceding five years under Kim Jong-il. The Ministry of Unification (MoU) accounts for all North Koreans who arrive in South Korea each year, and beginning in 2012, there was a significant decline in the number of people who escaped to South Korea. In fact, over the last five years, the numbers have reverted back to what they were in the early 2000s, just around 1500 people or less. Even with Kim Jong-un’s reported purging of officials—of which there are reports that more high-level officials defected as a result—the numbers are still low, especially among men. Since 2002, females outnumber male defectors and now generally account for about 70% of North Korean refugees[5] in South Korea.

So what reasons are there for this decline in number of defections and escapes? Many reports have pointed to increased surveillance and tighter border security along the Sino-North Korean border, thus making it more difficult for people to leave North Korea by way of China and then eventually travel to South Korea where the MoU can count them. Reports have shown extended fencing along the border areas by both the North Koreans and the Chinese.[6] The Chinese have continued to violate their legal obligations under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Refugee Convention) and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and persist in the refoulement of North Koreans, who are then persecuted by their own government upon return.

Additionally, there may have been policy changes made by Kim Jong-un’s regime, to include rumored “shoot to kill” instructions for border security, designated times for people to use the Tumen River—for example, to wash their clothes—and harsher punishments for families left behind by those escaping the country.

An alternative analysis of the decline in defections to South Korea is that the economy has improved, thus encouraging fewer people to escape North Korea. As some evidence shows, the North Korean economy has improved, and perhaps more people are allowed to participate in the markets, such as the “jangmadang” generation. But such improvements have surely not been the result of deliberate, top-down government policy. It is also possible that more North Koreans are staying in China, either by choice or because securing brokers or traveling alone or with the help of ministries has become more dangerous and more expensive.

Here, it is worth noting that even amongst the North Koreans who escape to China across the Tumen River, not all are able or willing to travel the various escape routes through Southeast Asia to South Korea. Others, but relatively very few, decide to come to the United States under our North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 and Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Today, there are still fewer than 200 former North Koreans living in the United States, while there are about 30,000 former North Koreans in South Korea according to the MoU. 

Interestingly, the number of escapees this year is on the rise. According to data from the MoU, the number of escapees grew 22 percent in the first half of the year compared to a year earlier in the January to June period (749 v. 614). It is still too early to make conclusions or speculate, but it may be worth analyzing the impact international scrutiny has had on overseas workers, particularly restaurant workers.[7]

Instability

A key topic of consideration when discussing refugee flow is instability. While the converse is not necessarily true, an increase in the flow of refugees may point to instability inside North Korea. Prior to signs of instability and refugee changes, plans to provide humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees and the most vulnerable populations inside North Korea, its prisoners, should exist. Right now, there is an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people inside North Korea’s political prison camps, or kwan-li-so. Its forced labor camps, kyo-hwa-so, are also believed to hold prisoners for what the regime deems political crimes. In both types of detention, there are reportedly high rates of death due to forced labor, malnutrition, disease, and even torture and killings. The UN COI also found that human rights violations are most severe inside North Korea’s political prison and forced labor camps. Many violations constitute crimes against humanity.[8]

Roberta Cohen, HRNK Co-Chair Emeritus, has also written about another important consideration in these detention facilities:

In the event of an armed conflict or revolution, camp authorities “have received orders to kill all prisoners,” according to former prison guard Ahn Myong-chol, in order “‘to eliminate any evidence’ about the existence of the camps.”[9] The initial order appears to originate with Kim Il-sung, later reaffirmed by Kim Jong-il. “Drills” also have been held “on how to kill large numbers of prisoners in a short period of time.”[10] Guards from other camps, as well as former prison officials, confirm this account. Rescuing prisoners should be given a high priority, even at a time of chaos. The camps and their brutality now symbolize a principal way in which the Kim regime has maintained its power.[11]

Whether or not this order is still in place is unknown, but it is an important knowledge gap because it could point to just how far the regime may go to eliminate evidence of its abuses in the event of instability.

Furthermore, North Korea may go to lengths to hide evidence of wrongdoing. As Joseph Bermudez, Jr. frequently points out: “North Korean officials, especially those within the Korean People’s Army and the internal security organizations, clearly understand the importance of implementing camouflage, concealment and deception (CCD) procedures.”[12] As a result, it is also imperative to continue documenting these human rights abuses and come up with ways to provide aid to the prisoners, hopefully learning both the good and the bad lessons from the previous release of prisoners from Nazi Germany’s concentration camps.

Increased Information Infiltration into North Korea

A second indicator of the changing human rights landscape under Kim Jong-un has been that of information infiltration. Over the last five years, more information is seemingly seeping into North Korea. This is forcing the Kim regime to adapt in order to survive and maintain its grip on power.

First, new technology constantly challenges North Korea. Today, there are drones from China, tablets, mobile phones, micro SD cards made to look like they are unopened—when in reality, they have Korean dramas and American movies on them in hard-to-detect files—and USB drives, not to mention DVDs. International civil society organizations continue to send radio broadcasts into North Korea detailing a more prosperous life in South Korea, and there has even been an uptick in the ROK government’s use of loudspeaker messaging.[13]

Second, with the advent of new technology that is harder to clamp down on, more North Koreans are receiving information. A widely-used resource detailing media consumption among North Korean escapees is InterMedia’s “A Quiet Opening” from 2012.[14] It found that access to outside media is rising steadily, and, for example, DVDs at the time had become the most common mode of accessing foreign media. Today, there is growth in the use of USBs and mobile phones, particularly mobile phones as media devices.

Of course, the technological changes and increased media consumption have not gone unnoticed. North Korea is the most adept state in the world at controlling information flow inside its borders. Likely due to new technology and an increased perception of threat, the regime has stepped up internal monitoring of its people and its networks. For example, IT professionals released information stating that North Korea’s operating system “Red Star” has a watermarking function that enables the regime to keep track of where a document hits Red Star OS for the first time and who opened it (as long as the computer is connected at least to the intranet).

Earlier this month, Radio Free Asia reported that “North Korean authorities have significantly stepped up crackdowns on illegal footage, they are also spreading a politics of fear [fearpolitik].” The 109 Combined Command (State Security Department or SSD) conducted a raid of a university student’s home and found a memory chip with several South Korean films. Unfortunately, the student reportedly killed herself during interrogations to protect her friends.[15]

Increased International Pressure on North Korea for its Human Rights Abuses

United Nations

A third and significant way in which the human rights landscape has changed since Kim Jong-un took power is the unprecedented pressure North Korea has received from the international community, including the United States. The UN COI was in and of itself a historic step—there are only a few other commissions of inquiry, including one for Syria currently—and deserves great credit for serving as a catalyst to promote awareness and international pressure.

Other UN actions besides the UN COI, though, have helped keep human rights at the forefront of the dialogue on North Korea. From a human rights organization perspective, this is incredibly important yet also difficult to sustain. It is understandably necessary to discuss the security threats regarding North Korea, but it is also incumbent upon the international community to investigate and hold leaders accountable for international crimes—in this case, crimes against humanity.

© U.S. Mission to the United Nations

In the last five years, the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly have issued strong resolutions condemning the Kim regime’s abuses. In 2014, however, the issue of North Korea was put on the agenda of the Security Council for the first time by way of a procedural vote. Again, in 2015, it was kept on the agenda. This signifies that the international community recognizes that North Korea’s human rights situation is important and has a direct impact on international peace and security. Time and time again, we have heard that human rights violations ultimately breed regional and international instability.

U.S. Government

For its part, the U.S. Government has also made remarkable strides towards accountability for the Kim regime’s human rights abuses. Recently, the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 became law.

On July 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor published a report for Congress pursuant to the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 entitled, Human Rights Abuses and Censorship in North Korea. This report focuses on highlighting and deterring human rights abuses committed by the North Korean regime. HRNK’s recent publication, Pyongyang Republic: North Korea's Capital of Human Rights Denial, by Robert Collins, informs the report on the Kim regime's policy of human rights denial within the now disbanded National Defense Commission, the Organization and Guidance Department, and the Reconnaissance General Bureau: "numerous and brutal executions of members of the power elite since Kim Jong-un took power are apparently being used by the regime to maximize the power elite’s fear of the young supreme leader.”

Furthermore, this report details aspects of the human rights situation in North Korea and the conduct of relevant persons, including those responsible for the commission of serious human rights abuses and censorship in North Korea. Drawing on both the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry and HRNK, the State Department identified individuals and entities as "subject to designation for sanctions" by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

On the same day and in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 11 individuals, including Kim Jong-un, and five entities, all identified in State's report. The sanctions are pursuant to Executive Order 13722 and Executive Order 13687 and are meant to "to pressure North Korea to cease engaging in destabilizing behavior and inflicting grave human rights abuses."[16]

North Korea’s Changing Responses to Human Rights Criticisms

North Korea has certainly responded to the criticisms of its human rights policies by the international community. While varied, the responses typically denounce the United States in an attempt to deflect blame, but these reactions are interesting because they have elicited changes in North Korea’s behavior under Kim Jong-un.

Reactions to the UN

After the adoption of HRC resolution 22/13, establishing the UN COI, North Korea publicly stated that it would “totally reject and disregard” the resolution, which it considered to be a “product of political confrontation and conspiracy.” Immediately after the Commission was created, the North Korean Ambassador to the UN, So Se-pyong, denounced the Commission as “an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image” of North Korea, while denying that any human rights abuses existed in his country.

Throughout the UN COI investigation, North Korea repeatedly dismissed the Commission and failed to cooperate with the commissioners by denying them access to the country. For its part, China also denied the commissioners access to its border region with North Korea. North Korean officials said that it did not have prison camps, but that there were “detention centres where people are improved through their mentality and look on their wrongdoings.”[17]

North Korea also submitted its own report on its human rights record after the UN COI released its findings, claiming that North Koreans enjoy robust human rights. It failed to mention the prison camps, despite the evidence gathered by the Commission of the existence of these unlawful detention facilities. Then, North Korea responded further with its own criticisms of the human rights situation in the United States and South Korea.

Interestingly, North Korea did something it had not done in over 15 years due to mounting pressure for its human rights abuses: its Foreign Minister attended the General Assembly and announced his country’s readiness to hold a “human rights dialogue with countries not hostile to it.”

Furthermore, North Korea changed its behavior in response to human rights by taking a greater part in another human rights mechanism, something known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Previously, North Korea had rejected recommendations made to it by other member states on ways to improve certain human rights issues. Following the publication of the UN COI findings, though, North Korea changed its tune and said it would implement certain recommendations. For North Korea, this was a new reaction to human rights pressure. During its last UPR cycle, North Korea again changed its prior stance and accepted some of the 268 recommendations. Unfortunately, the Special Rapporteur at the time, Marzuki Darusman, found that North Korea had done nothing to implement any of these recommendations, as of June 2014. Still, North Korea had never before said it would accept any of the UPR recommendations, so this was an interesting change in behavior by the regime.

After the UN General Assembly in December 2014 referred the Commission's findings to the Security Council, North Korea renounced any further cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms.

Reactions to the U.S.

Most recently, North Korea reportedly conducted a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test after the State Department’s human rights report and OFAC’s sanctions were published. In addition, it said that there were no longer any diplomatic ties to the United States—so no longer would North Korea communicate through its Mission in New York and the U.S. Mission to the UN—and it will operate with the United States under its “wartime law.”

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on July 7, 2016, responding to Kim Jong-un’s sanctions designation by the U.S. Treasury “for having engaged in, facilitated, or been responsible for an abuse or violation of human rights.” The full speech issued by its Foreign Ministry is enclosed here:


Several points worth highlighting in the speech include: 1) North Korea said the U.S. has crossed a “red line” by issuing the human rights report and sanctioning its leader; 2) North Korea said the U.S. has now declared war on the DPRK; 3) that North Korea will operate with the U.S. now under its “wartime law;” and 4) that North Korea will take the “toughest countermeasures” against the U.S.

A recent and interesting analysis of this speech was that done by NK News using its KCNA Watch data tool. NK News looked at that declaration of war language and found that for English media output since 1997, North Korea has felt other countries are declaring war over 200 times.

The phrase “wartime law,” also used in the Foreign Ministry statement, was analyzed and found to have been used much less frequently. In total, it has come up just 20 times over the same period.[19]

Various experts have commented on North Korea’s latest responses to the Treasury sanctions, including Victor Cha, who said that North Korea's threat to shut down its New York channel of communication should invite caution.

“The loss of the channel could be risky as ‘we head into the fall with U.S.-[South Korea] military exercises in August and U.S. presidential elections in November,’ Cha said.”[20]

Ken Gause, at CNA, also said that the upcoming US-ROK military exercises could serve as a justification for North Korea to act out. He said, "[t]he question is whether North Korea will stick with demonstrations and tests or will it try something more aggressive. If North Korea tries something aggressive, it most likely will be a covert—versus an overt—attack."[21]

The Human Rights and Security Nexus

Finally, international pressure for North Korea’s human rights violations has evoked responses from Kim Jong-un, aiding in a stronger nexus between security and human rights issues. Previously, human rights issues were on the backburner, and security issues, especially the nuclear one, were at the forefront. With increased international awareness and pressure today, coupled with Kim’s own actions—including that of executing officials, continuing to pursue nuclear weapons, and more obvious measures of effectiveness in terms of diplomatic responses to human rights pressure—the issue of human rights violations has been elevated. In most cases, the policy dialogue now includes human rights at the same time as security.

From HRNK’s perspective, this is certainly a positive development. It not only recognizes the shocking atrocities committed against fellow human beings, but there is also an interplay, an interconnectedness between human rights and security issues. It also buttresses up against an issue that James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), noted previously, that “[t]he risk of waning support for universal human rights norms is increasing as authoritarian regimes push back against human rights in practice and in principle.”[22]

Nevertheless, the Kim Jong-un regime’s commission of serious human rights abuses constitutes a continuing threat to the national security of the United States. As General Vincent Brooks said in an April 2016 statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kim Jong-un “appears to be more risk-tolerant, arrogant, and impulsive than his father, raising the prospect of miscalculation.”

Because of the interplay between human rights and security, there is also room to improve cooperation among NGOs and the security community in ways that are mutually beneficial. Human rights organizations have knowledge gaps that the security community may be able to help with, and security officials may benefit from unclassified reports, policy recommendations, and civil society perspectives.

An example of this relationship can be seen with the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The law states that “[t]he Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional intelligence committees, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on political prison camps in North Korea.”[23] This report was to be unclassified with an optional classified annex. HRNK prepares reports on North Korea’s political prison camps using commercial satellite imagery. Our reports are publically available, but they could potentially be improved with access to more declassified information on the prison camps, including more recent satellite imagery. In turn, we have done assessments of the camps, monitored developments, and interviewed former prisoners and guards.

Another example of this mutually beneficial relationship also involves the prison camps. Camp 16, or Kwan-li-so No. 16 Hwasong’s western perimeter is about two kilometers away from North Korea’s only known nuclear test facility, Punggye-ri. As an organization that focuses on human rights abuses that may be occurring in the camp, we have been looking for any signs that these political prisoners are used for labor at Punggye-ri. There have been reports that prisoners were taken to Mt. Mantap for biological and/or chemical testing, and there are one or two reports indicating that prisoners have been used to dig the tunnels for testing nuclear weapons.[24] However, although HRNK has closely followed these reports, our organization has not been able to independently confirm them.


© AllSource Analysis and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2016

Conclusion

North Korea’s human rights landscape is changing since Kim Jong-un came to power at the end of 2011. International focus is transitioning from security to security and human rights. Kim Jong-un has cracked down on defections, yet more information is getting into North Korea. This changing human rights environment with elevated tensions over human rights criticism continues to beg the question: Does this mean Kim Jong-un is consolidating or losing his power?[25] For now, this continues to be an open question, but human rights is certainly an integral part of this changing landscape under Kim Jong-un.




[1] General Vincent K. Brooks, Advance Questions for General Vincent K. Brooks, USA, Nominee to be Commander, United Nations Command, Commander, Republic of Korea-United States Combined Forces Command, and Commander, United States Forces Korea, April 19, 2016, http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Brooks_02-19-16.pdf.
[2] Scarlatoiu, Greg. “Romanian Perspectives on Korean Unification: The Romanian Regime Change Precedent.” International Journal of Korean Studies XX: 1 (2016), p. 4. (Not yet published.)
[3] Hawk, David. North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps, 22. Washington, D.C.: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2013. https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/NKHiddenGulag_DavidHawk(2).pdf.
[4] Statistics from ROK Ministry of Unification, http://www.unikorea.go.kr/content.do?cmsid=1440.
[5] Some U.S. human rights groups have indicated that defector may have some negative connotations, but the North Korea community of interest has not reached consensus regarding the use of the terms defector, refugee, former North Korean, or escapee. The term refugee, though, has a legal connotation, as it is defined under international law in the 1951 Refugee Convention and under U.S. domestic law in the INA.
[6] Jung Min Noh, “China Extends North Korean Border Fences to Bolster Security,” Radio Free Asia, August 5, 2013, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/fences-08052013162858.html.
[7] For current analysis on this topic, see http://m.koreatimes.co.kr/phone/news/view.jsp?req_newsidx=210966 and https://www.dailynk.com/english/read.php?cataId=nk03600&num=14024.
[8]In the 21st century, North Korea is the only country in the world that is still running a vast system of political prison camps incarcerating 120,000 men, women and children under gruesome conditions. They are persecuted behind the barbed wire fences of North Korea’s political prison camps, subjected to induced malnutrition, forced labor, torture, and sexual violence, as well as public and secret executions. In 2016, pursuant to Songbun—a system of social discrimination established in the 1950s—access to food, jobs, and any type of opportunity continues to depend on one’s perceived loyalty-based social classification.

Although, as a UN member state since 1991, North Korea is bound by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also by other international human rights instruments it has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, each and every conceivable human right is violated in North Korea.” Scarlatoiu, “Romanian Perspectives,” 3.
[9] UN General Assembly, Report of the detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, A/HRC/25/CRP.1, 7 February 2014, para. 732. 
[10] Ibid.
[11] Cohen, Roberta. “Post-Reunification Human Rights and Humanitarian Concerns.” International Journal of Korean Studies XIX: 2 (2015), p. 4.
[12] Bermudez Jr., Joseph S. and Opperman, Amy, North Korea’s Camp No. 22, 4. Washington, D.C.: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2012. https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/HRNK%20CAMP%2022%20REPORT%20FINAL%20(1).pdf.
[13]For instance, see S. Korea to introduce more loudspeakers to step up anti-NK broadcasting, Yonhap News Agency, April 12, 2016, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2016/04/12/0200000000AEN20160412009000315.html.
[14] See, generally, Kim, Jane and Kretchun, Nat, A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment. Washington, D.C.: InterMedia, 2012. http://www.intermedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/A_Quiet_Opening_FINAL_InterMedia.pdf.
[15] Elizabeth Shim, “North Korean Woman Commits Suicide After Arrest,” UPI, July 8, 2016, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/07/08/Report-North-Korean-woman-commits-suicide-after-arrest/7951467990957/?or=tn&spt=sec.
[16] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Report on Human Rights Abuses and Censorship in North Korea, July 6, 2016, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/259366.htm. The following is Annex A of the report, which is “a list of individuals associated with the below entities who are subject to designation for sanctions:”
National Defense Commission: Kim Jong-un, First Chairman; Ri Yong-mu, Vice Chairman; O Kuk-ryol, Vice Chairman; Hwang Pyong-so, Vice Chairman (1st Vice Director of the Organization and Guidance Department); Choe Pu-il, Member (Minister of Public Security); Pak Yong-sik, Member (former Ministry of Public Security Bureau Director and current Minister of the People’s Armed Forces)
Organization and Guidance Department: Jo Yon-jun, 1st Vice Director; Kim Kyong-ok, 1st Vice Director
Ministry of State Security: Kang Song-nam, Bureau Director, Prisons Bureau (in Ministry of State Security)
Ministry of People’s Security: Choe Chang-pong, Bureau Director; Ri Song-chol, Counselor, Correctional Bureau (in Ministry of People’s Security)
Propaganda and Agitation Department: Kim Ki Nam, Director; Ri Jae-il, 1st Vice Director
Reconnaissance General Bureau: Cho Il-u; O Chong-kuk.
[17] Choe Myong-nam, as quoted in, “North Korea Defends Human Rights Record in Report to UN,” BBC News, October 8, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29531969.
[18] See Michael Madden, “Foreign Ministry Issues Statement on Kim Jong Un’s Sanctions Designation,” North Korea Leadership Watch, July 8, 2016, https://nkleadershipwatch.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/foreign-ministry-issues-statement-on-kim-jong-uns-sanctions-designation/.
[19] Leo Byrne, “China, North Korea Criticize New U.S. Sanctions,” NK News, July 8, 2016, https://www.nknews.org/2016/07/china-north-korea-criticize-new-u-s-sanctions/.
[20] Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea May Soon Stir Up Provocations, U.S. Experts Say,” UPI, July 12, 2016, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/07/12/North-Korea-may-soon-stir-up-provocations-US-experts-say/5861468374691/?spt=mps&or=1&sn=tn_us.
[21] Ibid.
[22] James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, Statement for the Record, Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Senate Armed Services Committee, February 9, 2016, http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Clapper_02-09-16.pdf.
[23] See https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr4681.
[24] We also wonder if these prisoners are used to decontaminate the site after the tests; perhaps they are buried alive. All speculation at this point, but the proximity of these two facilities may be more than coincidental.
[25] “Despite new sanctions, North Korea continues to develop its weapons programs, including nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles—diverting precious resources away from the humanitarian needs of its people—and deny citizens their basic human rights. In the weeks leading up to the first Workers’ Party Congress in 36 years, Kim Jong-un seemed more unrelenting than ever in his current policies of “byeongjin” (simultaneous nuclear and economic development) and human rights denial.” Scarlatoiu, “Romanian Perspectives,” 5.

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