March 03, 2021

HRNK Letter to His Excellency Tomás Ojea Quintana

January 10, 2021

His Excellency Tomás Ojea Quintana
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)


Dear Mr. Quintana,

Thank you for your invitation to answer two questions on progress in accountability for human rights violations in the DPRK, aimed to inform your upcoming March 2021 report to the 46th Human Rights Council session.

The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) is the leading US-based bipartisan, non-governmental organization in the field of North Korean human rights research and advocacy. Since our inception in 2001, HRNK has published 47 reports, investigating the DPRK’s vast system of imprisonment, including political prison camps as well as vulnerable groups, especially women, children, and people in detention. HRNK has held UN consultative status since April 2018. Ever since, we have been proactively representing civil society in the UN process. By participating in the Universal Periodic Review, by organizing online and in-person international conferences and seminars and meetings with Permanent Missions, UN agencies and offices in Geneva, New York City, and Seoul, HRNK has been disseminating the findings and recommendations put forth in our reports.

All HRNK reports and report summaries are available on our website: https://hrnk.org/publications/hrnk-publications.php.

We are honored to share our views relating to the two questions you pose to stakeholders.

 

1. What progress and limitations do you see on accountability issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea seven years after the COI report, and how do you envisage the way forward?

On Progress:

The establishment of the OHCHR Office in Seoul, in June 2015 was the direct result of a recommendation made by the COI. For five and a half years, the Seoul Office has played an important role in the documentation process aimed to inform future accountability processes. While executing its mission, the Seoul Office has extensively interacted with CSOs based in the Republic of Korea and other countries, including HRNK.

Since the February 2014 UN COI report, annual resolutions on the human rights situation in the DPRK of both HRC and UNGA have included language condemning the “long-standing

and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights” committed in the DPRK, including those violations that, according to the COI, amount to crimes against humanity. UNGA resolutions have encouraged the UNSC to “continue its consideration of the relevant conclusions and recommendations of the commission of inquiry and take appropriate action to ensure accountability,” including referral of the human rights situation in the DPRK to the ICC. UNGA resolutions also recommended to the UNSC to consider targeted sanctions against those deemed most responsible for acts the COI found to amount to crimes against humanity.

The UNSC held an Arria Formula Meeting on human rights in the DPRK in April 2014. Subsequently, the UNSC took up the human rights situation in the DPRK as a formal agenda item in December 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. That outcome has not been replicated in 2018, 2019 or 2020.

Building on the COI report, HRC and UNGA resolutions on human rights in the DPRK and the UNSC taking up the issue as a formal agenda item have maintained pressure on the DPRK, kept the issue in focus and galvanized civil society worldwide.

On Limitations:

The perennial obstacle to efforts to address human rights and accountability in North Korea is that political, security, and military issues end up outcompeting and sidelining human rights.

UNSC referral of DPRK crimes against humanity to the ICC is unlikely, due to almost certain opposition by one, if not two P5 members.

On the Way Forward:

HRC and UNGA resolutions on the human rights situation in the DPRK must continue to include strong language on both DPRK crimes against humanity and the need for accountability, including ICC referral.

UNSC failure to take up DPRK human rights as a formal agenda item for three years in a row has given the impression of withdrawal from the high ground the UN and the international community once held on this issue. Moreover, this “withdrawal” roughly coincided with several rounds of US and ROK “summit diplomacy” with the DPRK, giving the impression that human rights was sidelined for the sake of addressing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. We would welcome it as a very positive development if the UNSC resumed taking up DPRK human rights as a formal agenda item.

UNSC resolutions establishing a DPRK sanctions regime have aimed to prevent the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. UNSC resolutions have never comprised a human rights-based rationale.

There is a need for UNSC resolutions to address DPRK crimes against humanity and other severe human rights violations, although that would be possible only while turning the DPRK human rights issue into a substantive, rather than procedural issue, subject to a potential P5 member veto.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of a potential P5 veto, seeking UNSC referral of the DPRK to the ICC will continue to pressure the DPRK to consider addressing and improving its human rights situation.

Given the difficulty of the ICC referral route, UN member states could consider alternative accountability mechanisms, with the support of CSOs worldwide.

Although not necessarily within the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur or within the scope of his reporting to the HRC, the role of CSOs, in particular CSOs holding consultative status with ECOSOC, could be emphasized. Under circumstances where the UN’s accountability efforts appear to have somehow stagnated, CSOs can strive to maintain the COI’s momentum.

One such example would be a documentation project HRNK is carrying out in collaboration with the International Bar Association (IBA). Once international travel is again possible, HRNK and IBA will conduct a hearing/mock trial in Seoul, based on the joint documentation project, and involving most respected international jurists and judges.

2. What are your views on the approach that should be taken to ensure that the obligation to respect human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including on accountability measures and ending impunity, and the need for the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula are fulfilled?


Peace and human rights can never be mutually exclusive. “Saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “reaffirming faith in fundamental human rights” are enshrined together in the Preamble to the UN Charter. The Korean Peninsula is no exception.

Nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and military tensions aside, human rights and human security are closely intertwined. Efforts must be undertaken to persuade the DPRK that neither humanitarian, nor development assistance can be divorced from human rights.

The COI recommended that “the United Nations Secretariat and agencies should urgently adopt and implement a common ‘Rights up Front’ strategy to ensure that all engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea effectively takes into account, and addresses, human rights concerns,” including those concerns collected in the COI report.

As emphasized by the COI, the adoption of a “Rights up Front” approach would help prevent “the recurrence or continuation of crimes against humanity” in the DPRK.

A Human Rights up Front (HRuF) approach to disbursing humanitarian assistance to the DPRK continues to be imperative. There are certainly extraordinary difficulties facing UN humanitarian agencies involved in the DPRK, in particular pertaining to access. COVID-19-related restrictions in the DPRK have exacerbated such difficulties. With only a couple of UN international workers left in-country, conducting humanitarian operations is nearly impossible.

Nevertheless, the situation created by COVID restrictions in the DPRK may provide the opportunity of a reset in the disbursement of humanitarian assistance by UN agencies. Such a reset may include the fundamental building blocks of an actual HRuF strategy, beginning with requesting access to the most vulnerable groups affected by precarious health care, water and sanitation and hygiene as well as natural disasters, including women, children, and people in detention.

The path to peace on the Korean Peninsula would hit a dead end in the absence of measures to prevent the recurrence of crimes against humanity in the DPRK. UN agencies and UN member states must seek access to detention facilities in the DPRK, in particular to political prison camps, whose existence the DPRK denies, despite thorough documentation via satellite imagery and escapee testimony. Recognizing the UN Special Rapporteur and allowing Mr. Quintana unconditional and unfettered access inside the country would help initiate a human rights-centered trust-building process with the DPRK.

As emphasized by HRNK author David Hawk in an upcoming report, UN accountability mechanisms—applying international criminal law to the DPRK—have constituted the sole approach which has led the DPRK to make some changes to its human rights policies, however small or insignificant. For example, after the COI report, the DPRK responded with a shift in its UPR policy, “accepting” and “rejecting” recommendations for the first time. Naturally, such moves could be purely tactical, and their importance should not be exaggerated.

Ultimately, peace on the Korean Peninsula would be peace between Koreans living in the South and in the North, including both victims and perpetrators. In order to prepare for peace on the Korean peninsula, the documentation process by the Seoul Office must continue. To end impunity, while engagement aimed at peace process on the Korean peninsula may continue, efforts at the HRC, UNGA, and possibly the UNSC must not relent.


Respectfully submitted,

Greg Scarlatoiu
Executive Director

March 01, 2021

Fixing Distorted History, a Prerequisite to Democratizing North Korea

On the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the March First Movement
By Kim Myong
Edited by Greg Scarlatoiu, HRNK Executive Director



On March 1, 1919, one hundred and two years ago to this day, the Korean people turned a new page in their history by proclaiming the annulment of the 1910 Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty and the independence of Korea, and by launching a non-violent national movement for independence from Japanese colonial rule, also called the “March First Movement.”[1] Encouraged by the concept of “national self-determination” promoted by then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, patriotic forces in Korea, a country Japan annexed by force in 1910, began a nationwide anti-Japanese movement to regain national sovereignty through a peaceful demonstration. That momentous effort was unsuccessful, crushed by the brutal repression of the Japanese imperial forces.[2] However, the March First Movement marked a paradigm shift in the minds of Koreans that the sovereignty of their country and nation mattered the most, above anything personal. On this occasion, they also learned that the independence of their country could be achieved only through armed struggle, not through bare-handed peaceful demonstrations. Later on, the Korean independence movement took one step forward with the establishment of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, tasked to lead the anti-Japanese independence struggle amidst Japanese colonial rule.

To observe the national pride this movement symbolizes, the Republic of Korea (ROK) proclaimed March 1 as a National Day and Public Holiday through the National Holiday Act of October 1, 1949. On the contrary, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has never made March 1 a national holiday. They hold sporadically commemorative events attended by “religious” or social organizations under the control of the Korean Workers’ Party’s United Front Department as part of their effort to reunify the Korean peninsula under communism by rallying their supporters inside South Korea. Unaware of what is really going on, South Koreans may be impressed that the North Korean authorities “cherish” the common history of our nation’s anti-Japanese struggles.

For North Koreans who have been brainwashed for life by history education centered on the so-called “revolutionary activities” of Kim Il-sung and his Baekdu Bloodline Family, March 1 is just an ordinary and “meaningless” day. While living in North Korea, I had no proper understanding of the March First Movement, nor did I spend this day honoring all the martyrs who died for the country. Despite being a short moment in the nation's 5,000-year history, this day is very important: The March First Movement demonstrated the national aspiration for independence and helped to catalyze the growing popular anger towards Japanese occupation. Deceived by the false propaganda of the North Korean authorities, who are so skilled in distorting the national history, dozens of millions of my fellow countrymen in North Korea worship only the Kim family while devaluing or ignoring the brilliant traditions and true historic accomplishments of their nation. Changing their distorted perceptions of history should be the first step toward democratizing North Korea.


North Korea’s Absurd Sophism Distorts the Historical Facts on the March First Movement

Distorted education by the North Korean authorities on the March First Movement is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other historical facts that they have warped to their liking.

First, North Korean education doesn’t provide any details on the 33 national activists who initiated the March First Movement and prepared the Declaration of Independence. Instead, the movement is used and abused to idolize the Kim family by claiming that it originated in Pyongyang under the leadership of Kim Il-sung's family members.

In North Korea, it is taught that the first flame of the March First Movement started in Pyongyang and then spread down to Seoul, and that “the patriotic young students of Pyongyang Soongsil Middle School played a leading role under the revolutionary influence of Kim Hyong-jik, an outstanding leader of the anti-Japanese national liberation movement.” [3] In other words, North Korean propaganda claims that Kim Hyong-jik, father of Kim Il-sung, had a decisive influence on initiating this movement through the students of Pyongyang Soongsil Middle School, where he had earlier studied. North Korean propagandists and “educators” insist that the movement was a turning point in shifting the struggle for national liberation from the nationalist movement to the communist movement.

However, according to historical archives at the time, Kim Hyong-jik, who had already dropped out of school, was arrested in 1917 by the Japanese police in South Pyongan Province for the “Korean National Association” incident and was released in 1918.[4] He immediately moved to Jung-gang-jin (a geographical area of North Pyongan Province), which proves that he could not participate in the March First Movement in Pyongyang. Besides, there is no specific record of his contribution to this movement, either.

Even in Kim Il-sung's memoirs, “With the Century,” perhaps by his mistake, nowhere is there any mention that the students who were influenced by his father commenced this movement. Instead, he wrote that his maternal grandfather Kang Don-uk urged his fellow villagers and young people to participate in the anti-Japanese independence demonstration. According to Kim Il-sung’s memoirs, he then took the lead in their march from Chilgol to Pyongyang during the March First Movement. In his memoirs, Kim Il-sung also claims that his maternal uncle, Kang Jin-sok, led the march together with his father. He described the March First Movement in Pyongyang in more detail than that in Seoul. He also described Ryu Gwan-sun as an ordinary female student without mentioning her name,[5]and characterized the 33 national activists who led the March First Movement as incompetent elite and bourgeois nationalists.[6] This shows that Kim Il-sung was trying to distort the truth about the March First Movement by under-evaluating the importance of Seoul as the origin of the movement and ignoring the historical figures who led it.

Second, North Korea exaggerates, claiming that, just before his seventh birthday, Kim Il-sung participated in person in the March First Movement, and that his participation provided an opportunity to raise his national consciousness and pushed him to later engage in the anti-Japanese armed struggle.[7]

“I was only eight years old at the time, but I joined in the march wearing my worn-out shoes full of holes. I shouted hurrah over and over with the marchers and reached the Botong Gate. The marchers rushed inside the castle past the Gate; I could not keep up with them in my tattered shoes and so I took them off and ran after the marchers as fast as my little legs could move. When adults sang hurray for independence, I sang hurray together.” [8]

As written above, Kim Il-sung recalled in his memoirs that he had joined the demonstrators at a young age to march with them past the Botong Gate of Pyongyang. Given that the round-trip distance from Mangyongdae where he lived to the Botong Gate was about 15-20 miles, it is hard to believe that he marched alone without help or company of any of his family members. He also recounted that in the following days, he went up to Mangyongdae Peak, blowing a trumpet and beating the drum, and shouting hurrah for independence even after sunset. Unlike his Chilgol family members, who personally participated in the March First Movement, no other members from his Mangyongdae family seemed to join him in the movement, which casts a shadow of doubt on his participation itself.

Kim Il-sung wrote that his worldview broadened and he matured much faster than others by experiencing the scenes of marchers shouting hurrah for independence and witnessing people being killed by the armed police during the movement.

“The March First Movement placed me in the rank of the people and left an image on my eyes of the true nature of the Korean people. Whenever I hear the echo of the March First hurrahs, I feel so proud of the Korean people's unbending determination and heroism.” [9]

In fact, North Korean textbooks show drawings illustrating young Kim Il-sung, marching in the front row of Pyongyang demonstrators and shouting hurrah with them to convince school students that their great leader hated Japanese imperialists profoundly and nurtured the big ambition of regaining the independence of his country since childhood.

Third, while arguing that the Kim family was directly or indirectly involved in the March First Movement, North Korea paradoxically makes an inappropriate and parsimonious evaluation of this movement, emphasizing that only the anti-Japanese armed struggle by Kim Il-sung was appropriate and effective as a manifestation of the independence movement.

North Korea’s official interpretation is that the March First Movement failed because of the following factors: a) it was not guided by an outstanding leader, a revolutionary class, and a revolutionary party; and b) the nationalist leaders of this movement had class-based limitations and deep-rooted pro-Americanism. They say that despite its failure, the movement has historical significance in that it raised the Korean people’s anti-Japanese national liberation movement to a higher level, in an attempt to secure the legitimacy for, and link it to, Kim Il-sung’s armed struggle only.[10]

North Korea labels the 33 national activists who wrote the March First Declaration of Independence “Bourgeois Nationalists.” Furthermore, North Korea blames them for having failed to identify an appropriate way to fight against the armed Japanese imperialists, as they were presumably “prisoners” of President Woodrow Wilson’s idea of national self-determination and counted too much on powers such as the United States. They also say that the movement proved that the nationalists were no longer in a position to lead the anti-Japanese national liberation movement.[11]

In his memoirs, Kim Il-sung wrote: “The failed March First Movement taught us that in order to win our fight for independence and freedom, we must have effective revolutionary leadership and organizational structures; we must use the right tactics and strategies; and we must debunk toadyism and build up our strength on our own.” And he highlighted the importance of his anti-Japanese armed struggle for combating Japanese imperialism and liberating the country.[12]

In history education, North Korea neither gets the historical events across to their population based on objective facts only, nor does it allow them to use their judgment to assess history. Instead, there is “one-way injection” education, based on the textbooks prepared by the Korean Workers’ Party. Therefore, North Koreans are obliged to believe and accept the severely distorted history as it is taught to them by the public education system.


History Education in North Korea is a Legal Means to Build the Kim Family’s Cult of Personality

The main purpose of history education in North Korea is to highlight that Kim Il-sung’s family has been, across generations, the most revolutionary and patriotic family in the country, and that it is the only family that can yield an outstanding leader representing the popular masses.

Currently, the school education’s curriculum contains four subjects related to the Kim family’s “revolutionary activities”—i.e., the history of Kim Il-sung, of Kim Jong-il, of Kim Jong-un, and of Kim Jong-suk—giving priority to these subjects and totally neglecting the Korean history per se. Instead of gaining sufficient knowledge about the Korean nation with its 5,000-year history, the North Koreans are more focused on learning about “the revolutionary life, immortal achievements and great human features” of the Kim family members, starting from Kim Il-sung’s anti-Japanese struggle and his activities after liberation. At school, students do not know much about Ryu Gwan-sun, An Jung-geun[13] and any other patriots or independence activists who devoted their lives in the anti-Japanese struggle. When the Shanghai-based Provisional Government or the Korean Liberation Army is introduced to North Korean students, more emphasis is placed on the perceived mistakes by these organizations rather than what they did right. By the end of history education, students get convinced that the anti-Japanese armed struggle by Kim Il-sung was the one and only right way to achieve national liberation.

In addition, they also learn about other members of the Kim family, beginning with Kim Il-sung’s great-grandfather Kim Ung-woo, as if they were all “great examples of revolutionaries and patriots who devoted their entire lives to the independence of the country and happiness of the nation.” They are taught that great-grandfather Kim Ung-woo took the lead in destroying and sinking the General Sherman in the Daedong River, [14] that grandfather Kim Bo-hyon and grandmother Ri Bo-ik were passionate patriots who raised their children for the revolutionary struggle, that maternal grandfather Kang Don-uk was a patriot who dedicated his life to education and the independence movement, and that all his uncles and younger siblings were revolutionaries who fought for independence (Table 1). By portraying the Kim family as the most revolutionary and patriotic family in the country, the North Korean authorities have justified the hereditary ruling by the Kim family and made it a moral obligation for their people to loyally support their leaders.



Table 1: Designations used in the idolization of the Kim family

NamesRelationship with Kim Il-sungDesignations
Kim Jong-sukFirst wife
(1919­–1949)
Anti-Japanese heroine; great female revolutionary; the quintessential example of ideal Korean mothers
Kim Ung-wooGreat-grandfather
(1845–1930)
Passionate patriot
Kim Bo-hyonGrandfather
(1871–1955)
Passionate patriot
Ri Bo-ik

Grandmother
(1876–1959)

Passionate patriot
Kim Hyong-jikFather
(1894–1926)
Indomitable revolutionary fighter; passionate patriot; prominent leader of the anti-Japanese national liberation movement of the country
Kang
Ban-sok
Mother
(1892–1932)
Indomitable revolutionary fighter; great mother of Korea; great female revolutionary; the best example of Korean mothers; outstanding leader of the Korean women's movement
Kim Hyong-gwonUncle
(1905–1936)
Indomitable revolutionary fighter; the best example of revolutionary believers; inflexible revolutionary with conviction and commitment
Kim Chol-juBrother
(1916–1935)
Indomitable revolutionary fighter; the embodiment of great revolutionaries
Kim Won-juCousin
(1927–1957)
Indomitable revolutionary fighter
Kang Don-ukMaternal grandfather
(1871–1943)
Passionate patriot; great educator
Kang Jin-sokMaternal uncle
(1890–1942)
Passionate anti-Japanese revolutionary fighter
Source: Based on the North Korean version of the History of Korea.

From April 1992 until his death in July 1994, Kim Il-sung wrote and published eight volumes of his autobiographical memoirs, "With the Century.”[15] As pointed out earlier, controversy exists over many of the historical “facts” introduced in his memoirs.

As soon as Kim Il-sung’s memoirs were published, all North Koreans were called on to read them every day and study their “essence” during the weekly Saturday saeng-hwal-chong-hwa “life and ideological guidance” group meetings, according to the ideological study plans assigned by the Korean Workers’ Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department. Kim Il-sung’s memoirs constitute an important part of his cult of personality.


Ga-gye Politics” Thrives on the Dictatorship of the Kim Family

North Koreans internally refer to the extended family of Kim Il-sung as ga-gye (lineage). For example, if someone says that “he or she is married to ga-gye,” it means that he or she married someone who is lineally descended from Kim Il-sung—including his paternal and maternal lineages, i.e. Mangyongdae Kim family or Chilgol Kang family. The term ga-gye does not apply to any other families, for whom the term ga-jok (family) is used. As the years went by, the ga-gye expanded rapidly by marriage between ga-gye members and ga-jok members of different surnames or same surnames from different clans. For example, by marrying Kim Kyong-hui, who is Kim Il-sung's daughter, Jang Song-taek and his bloodline were integrated into the ga-gye. The same was true of Ho Dam, former Foreign Minister of North Korea, who married Kim Il-sung’s cousin, Kim Jong-suk, who was president of the DPRK Committee for Foreign Cultural Relations until recently. For the people of North Korea, ga-gye means royal family and represents absolute power.

From the late 1960s, when Kim Il-sung’s one-man rule was being established, members of the ga-gye began occupying high-level positions in the Korean Workers’ Party, the State, and the Military. In fact, their positions did not matter in exercising power. If, for example, someone introduces him or herself as Kim Il-sung's cousin or his maternal niece’s husband, he or she will enjoy a higher privilege than the general managers or the Party secretaries of the enterprises. No one could be more powerful than a ga-gye member in resolving practical issues for smooth management of a business enterprise.

For example, when public enterprises in North Korea want to build houses for their employees or import some raw materials from China, they have to obtain permission to do so from several state agencies by undergoing a multi-phased process. The North Korean term for the license they get for such business is called “waku.” Depending on the content and nature of the business, a waku requires a very complicated and hard process that, in most cases, is “facilitated” through bribery. People often fail to get a waku, even after spending a lot of time and energy for it. Members of ga-gye can help figure things out using their networks and connections because lots of their family members or relatives are already in key positions at the powerful state agencies that issue the waku. In addition, when high-level officials are subjected to legal punishment for an administrative mistake made in the line of work, ga-gye members often help them to be acquitted. It is needless to say that they receive handsome “compensation” for their help. So, fierce competition often rages among agencies in order to attract members of ga-gye to their offices. 

In this way, Kim Il-sung's relatives or members of the ga-gye penetrated all major state agencies to run “ga-gye politics,” which contribute greatly to widespread corruption and inefficient business management.

As I was surrounded by a number of ga-gye members during my life in North Korea, I knew their nature like the back of my hand. I found them everywhere I went—at the schools I attended and at my workplaces as well. They enjoyed all kinds of privileges and immunities that ordinary people could not aspire to even in their dreams. To me, they were living in a totally different world, and they belonged to a different class in all aspects.

Without making any effort to study hard, they were easily accepted to the top universities of their choice, regardless of their scores on the entrance exams. Even if their school attendance was lower than 50 percent, or even if they did not diligently participate in the school’s organizational life, it did not matter. They were never reprimanded and graduated from their universities with the highest results, as if they had been excellent students. Later on, they found good jobs of their choice in the Party, law enforcement, armed forces and security agencies, in the offices that enabled them to work abroad, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Foreign Trade, or in the foreign currency-earning companies under Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party. They were frequently exempted from social work duties in their offices, were lazy and unfaithful in the implementation of their main tasks, but they received good end-of-year evaluations and got promoted faster than others.

With no concerns at all about their daily living, they had a lot of free time. They were wasting their lives on pleasure and entertainment. Many of them became addicted to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Instead of having a bookshelf filled with books at home, they collected South Korean and foreign movies, including pornographic videos, that were banned in North Korea. If ordinary people got caught watching South Korean movies, they would be immediately sent to the kwan-li-so (political prison camps), but the members of ga-gye, accused of the same “crime,” were released soon upon receiving a severe warning. Besides, “yeon-jwa-je,” the North Korean method of punishing up to three generations of the family when a person is found guilty of a “serious crime,” hardly applied to the Kim family and ga-gye members.

In a word, North Korea was the country of the Kim family and ga-gye. These people were living with a sense of superiority, as if the space where we lived together belonged only to them and as if they were untouchable. They were the North Korean “nobility,” and lived extraordinarily selfish lives.

As the dictators changed, the Mangyongdae Kim family and the Chilgol Kang family seemed to be pushed away out of the core of North Korean power, whose center seems to be shifting gradually toward the “Wonsan Kim family.” This will bring another type of ga-gye politics to North Korea.[16]


Truth is More Powerful than Lies

The denial of historical facts by the North Korean authorities is absolutely necessary to maintain their regime. During their seven decade-long reign, the Kim family has committed countless unforgivable crimes against the nation and humanity. They needed to alter or distort the facts to hide their crimes, and they needed to cheat their people to continue ruling over them. If the North Koreans knew the truth of history, the Pillars of Belief in the Kim family and the Myth of the Great Leader would collapse in a matter of seconds like a wall washed away by a deluge, and this would undoubtedly lead to the collapse of the North Korean regime. Truth exists to be eventually revealed. Truth always prevails over deception and lies (Diagram 1).


Diagram 1: Truth Is More Powerful than Lies

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations



Out of so many facts that the North Korean authorities are trying to distort or hide, two facts about Kim Il-sung’s and Kim Jong-il’s births were the most shocking to me. Kim Il-sung was born into a family of devout Christians who believed in God. Kim Jong-il was born in Russia and was named “Yuri Irsenovitch Kim.” Let me take the liberty of presenting a few facts on Kim Il-sung’s birth, although they are already known to the world (Box 1).

Box 1: Kim Il-sung was born into a family of Christian believers

Kim Il-sung's parents, Kim Hyong-jik (father) and Kang Ban-sok (mother), were devout Christians. American Presbyterian missionary Nelson Bell brokered their marriage, which would result in the birth of Kim Il-sung.

Kim Hyong-jik, in his childhood, dreamed of becoming a pastor. He attended Pyongyang Sunhwa School, which was established by American missionaries, and learned to write the Bible in Korean calligraphy. At the time, American missionaries paid a cent in Korean coins to students who came to church. The missionaries loved Kim Hyong-jik, especially for showing his faith by putting all the coins he received into the church offering box. On the recommendation of American missionaries, Kim Hyong-jik entered Soongsil Middle School. This school was founded in 1897 in Pyongyang as a private school by American Presbyterian missionary William M. Baird.

Kang Ban-sok was born as the second daughter of Kang Don-uk, who was a devout Presbyterian. Her real name at birth was Kang Shin-hi, but she was baptized in church by Nelson Bell and renamed Ban-sok, the Korean translation of Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles.

Through Nelson Bell’s brokerage, Kim Hyong-jik and Kang Ban-sok got to know each other and married. As a result, Kim Il-sung was born into a devout family. When he was a child, Kim Il-sung followed his mother to church and faithfully believed in Christianity.

Ironically, under Kim Il-sung’s rule, North Korea was transformed into the world’s worst religious persecutor.

Source: Kim Il-Sung and Christianity in North Korea by Dae Young Ryu, Journal of Church and State, Volume 61, Issue 3, Summer 2019, Pages 403–430

The reason why the North Korean authorities hide the true facts about Kim Il-sung’s and Kim Jong-il's births is because, once known to the people, they may become an obstacle to deifying and idolizing their “great leaders.”

Like anyone else in the world, North Korean people have the right to access information. This right is an integral part of the fundamental right of freedom of expression, as recognized by Resolution 59 of the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1946,[17] as well as by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[18] It has also been enshrined as a corollary of the basic human right of freedom of expression in other major international instruments, including the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[19]

If any government takes measures to block, for any reason, the free access to information by the North Korean people, they will be blamed by the entire Free World for forsaking 25 million North Koreans and enabling the Kim dynasty to continue to enslave them. As a result of such actions, the prospects for democratization of North Korea and for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula will remain uncertain.

[1] The declaration released on this day is called the “March First Declaration of Independence.”

[2]  Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (https://encykorea.aks.ac.kr/Contents/Item/E0026772).

[3] North Korean version of the History of Korea (for the 4th grade of high schools). Printed in 2000 by DPRK Educational Books Publishing House.

[4] The “Korean National Association” was a pro-independence clandestine organization founded in Pyongyang in 1915. It was soon discovered by the Japanese imperial authorities and its founding members were imprisoned in 1918, which led to its immediate dissolution. For more details on this organization, please visit: https://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/조선국민회 .

 

[5] Ryu (Yoo) Kwang-sun (1878~?) was a Korean independence fighter and believer in Cheondoism. Arrested and sentenced to 1 year and 3 months of prison for anti-Japanese activities on November 22, 1920, her fate is unknown after that date.

[6] Kim Il-sung's Memoirs “With the Century” Vol. 1 (April 1992). Chapter One: Land of misfortunes.

[7] Kim Il-sung was born on April 15, 1912. According to the Western way of counting age, he was about to turn seven in March 1919. According to the Korean way of counting age, he was about to turn eight.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] North Korean version of the History of Korea (for the 4th grade of high schools). Printed in 2000 by DPRK Educational Books Publishing House.

[11] In his memoirs, Kim Il-sung wrote that the national self-determination was a hypocritical slogan issued by the US to prevent the influence of Russia’s October Socialist Revolution from spreading to other parts of the world.

[12] Kim Il-sung's Memoirs “With the Century” Vol. 1 (April 1992). Chapter One: Land of misfortunes.

[13] An Jung-geun (1879–1910) was a Korean nationalist and independence activist who assassinated Prince Ito Hirobumi, a four-time Prime Minister of Japan and former Resident-General of Korea, in 1909. He was subsequently imprisoned and executed by the Japanese authorities on March 26, 1910.

[14] The General Sherman was a U.S. Merchant Marine side-wheel steamer attacked and sunk in the Daedong River in 1866. The incident is often credited as a catalyst to the end of Korean isolationism in the second half of the 19th century.

[15] The eight volumes of Kim Il-sung’s memoirs cover the period from his childhood to his repatriation upon the liberation. The last two volumes were posthumously published.

[16] Kim Jong-un is presumed to have been born in Wonsan, on January 8, 1984.

[17] The UN General Assembly Resolution 59, A/RES/59(1), adopted on December 14, 1946, is available at: https://research.un.org/en/docs/ga/quick/regular/1 .

[18] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December 10, 1948, is available at: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ .

[19] The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted on 16 December 1966, is available at: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx .

February 23, 2021

What is Wrong with the Anti-Leafleting Law?

Seminar organized by the People Power Party
ROK National Assembly

Opening Remarks by Greg Scarlatoiu
Executive Director, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
Monday, February 22, 2021




Distinguished Representative Joo Ho-young, Distinguished Assemblyman Cho Taeyong, Distinguished Assemblyman Ji Seong-ho, Esteemed Participants, Friends and Colleagues,

Thank you for the invitation to give brief remarks today. Let me begin by congratulating Assemblyman Cho on this bold initiative. It comes at a time when North Korean human rights defenders face unprecedented pressure in the Republic of Korea.

For 73 years, three generations of the Kim family regime have exercised draconian control of the North Korean population through overwhelming coercion, surveillance and punishment. Information control has been at the center of the regime’s totalitarian grip on power. And yet, for more than two decades, information from the outside world has been slowly, but surely piercing through North Korea’s information firewall. The number of North Koreans who watch American and South Korean movies and come in contact with Hallyu, K-pop, and South Korean TV dramas has been on the rise. And yet the number of vehicles available to deliver such content has been limited: radio broadcasting, micro-SD cards, USBs and other portable media devices sold at North Korea’s black markets, rice bottles and leaflet balloons. Removing any one of these vehicles will significantly impact the volume of information that enters North Korea.

Do all leaflet balloons launched from the South reach North Korea? If the launch is timed properly, taking into account wind speed and direction, yes. Is it possible to track them all the way to the landing grounds? Yes, through GPS and other tracking devices. Do some leaflet balloons end up elsewhere? Yes, if the launch is not prepared or timed correctly. Do the leaflets, movies, K-drama, Bibles, and cash sent via leaflet balloons have an impact? Absolutely. Eighty percent of the 1.2 million-strong North Korean military is forward-deployed, south of the Pyongyang-Wonsan line. Large parts of the area between that line and the DMZ are within reach. And even if only officers and NCOs were to read the leaflets, the impact would be significant. That is one possible reason why the North Korean regime and its propaganda so adamantly demanded that the balloon launches be banned.

Currently, under the pretext of COVID prevention, the North Korean regime is tightening control over its population. For the past few years, it has employed new content, new technologies as well as judicial and extra-judicial punishment to counter information from the outside world. Most recently, it has enacted draconian laws to punish those who circulate and access such information. The outside world, including South Korea, should answer by increasing, not decreasing the amount of information or the number of information delivery vehicles involved.

The role of information sent into North Korea is critical. Such information must highlight the sharp disconnect between the North Korean regime’s propaganda and the real lives of North Koreans. Such information must empower the people of North Korea and enable them to pierce through the veil of DPRK regime indoctrination and control, by: 1. Highlighting the fundamental contradiction between the DPRK’s Constitution, other legislation and obligations pursuant to international law and treaties on the one hand, and the regime’s propaganda on the other. 2. Explaining to the people of North Korea human rights and their egregious human rights situation. 3. Focusing on the corruption of the DPRK regime, in particular the inner core of the Kim family; and 4. Featuring the story of the outside world, especially free, prosperous, democratic South Korea.

On February 14, in response to a call by the ROK Ministry of Unification, my organization submitted a legal opinion on the “Anti-Leafleting Law,” authored by my colleague Amanda Morwedt Oh, HRNK human rights attorney, and our pro bono counsel.

The memo finds that South Korea’s Amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act (the “Amendment”) violates ROK domestic and international legal obligations, namely the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Amendment infringes on international human rights, including the freedoms of expression, thought, conscience, religion, assembly, and association. The Amendment is flawed in its statutory construction, poses jurisdictional considerations, infringes on fundamental rights, and is excessively punitive. Ultimately, the Amendment unnecessarily targets North Korean escapee groups working to send information, goods, and remittances to their fellow people and families in the North. If entered into force on March 30, 2021, this Amendment will also create second-order effects on the already vulnerable and oppressed North Korean people. The Amendment is a matter of grave concern for international human rights organizations.

Moreover, the Amendment runs counter to the idea that the U.S.-South Korea alliance is grounded in shared values, straining a staunch alliance, partnership, and friendship that has been so resilient for almost seven decades. The U.S. North Korean Human Rights Act, due for reauthorization again soon, will need to be reviewed more closely to find ways to factor in conditions created by the Amendment.

Without human rights, there can be no reconciliation, no peace, no prosperity for Koreans living in the north, and no unification. Positive change can be enacted only by the people of North Korea. In order to empower them, the best South Korea and the outside world can do is to increase the volume and quality of information as well as the range of vehicles available to deliver that information. This Amendment should be repealed before it goes into force on March 30, 2021.

Thank you very much.

February 19, 2021

Legal Opinion: Whether the Republic of Korea (ROK)’s Amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act (“Anti-Leaflet Law”) violates ROK domestic or international legal obligations

February 14, 2021


Authors:
HRNK Pro Bono Counsel
And
Amanda Mortwedt Oh, HRNK Human Rights Attorney


Summary

South Korea’s Amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act (the “Amendment”) violates ROK domestic and international legal obligations, namely the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Amendment to the law is flawed in its statutory construction, poses jurisdictional considerations, infringes on fundamental rights, is excessively punitive, and has implications on existing inter-Korean agreements. The Amendment also infringes on international human rights, including the freedoms of expression, thought, conscience and religion, and assembly and association. Ultimately, the Amendment unnecessarily targets North Korean escapee groups working to send information, goods, and remittances to their fellow people and families in the North. If entered into force on March 30, 2021, this Amendment will also create second-order effects on the already vulnerable and oppressed North Korean people under the totalitarian rule of Kim Jong-un.


Background

1. On February 10, 2005, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK” or “North Korea”) under Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father and son of Kim Il-sung, declared itself a nuclear state,[1] having developed nuclear weapons during ROK Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun’s administrations. On December 29, 2005, the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act was first enacted under President Roh, who had continued the Sunshine Policy of his predecessor Kim Dae-jung.[2] Current ROK President Moon Jae-In worked as President Roh’s chief of staff from 2007 to 2008.

2. On April 27, 2018, President Moon and Chairman Kim Jong-un signed the Panmunjom Declaration on Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula (“Panmunjom Declaration”).[3]

Article 2 of the Panmunjom Declaration states:

2. The two sides will make joint efforts to defuse the acute military tensions and to substantially remove the danger of a war on the Korean peninsula.
Alleviating the military tension and eliminating the danger of war is a very important issue related to the destiny of the nation and a very crucial issue for ensuring peaceful and stable life of the Koreans.

① The two sides agreed to completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain including land, sea and air that are the root cause of military tension and conflicts.
For the present, they agreed to stop all the hostile acts including the loud-speaker broadcasting and scattering of leaflets in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) from May 1, to dismantle their means, and further to transform the DMZ into a peace zone in a genuine sense.

3. On September 19, 2018, President Moon and Chairman Kim Jong-un signed the Pyongyang Joint Declaration,[4]adopting the Agreement on the Implementation of the Military Consensus in the Panmunjom Declaration (“Comprehensive Military Agreement” (CMA) or “9.19 Military Agreement”) as an annex to the Pyongyang Declaration.[5] The Pyongyang Declaration’s stated purpose, in part, was to “assess the excellent progress” since the two leaders signed the Panmunjom Declaration.

4. The CMA is an inter-Korean bilateral agreement at a ‘military level’ to ‘ease tension’ and ‘build trust’ between North and South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). CMA paragraph 1 says the two sides agree to cease all hostile acts, and CMA Annex 4, 1(3)(3) specifically prohibits “psychological warfare” in the “maritime peace zone.”

5. On June 4, 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, “strongly criticized escapees living in the Republic of Korea for sending anti-leadership leaflets to the North. She also demanded that the Republic of Korea “at least make a law to stop the farce”, in accordance with the Panmunjom Declaration in which both sides agreed to cease all hostile acts, including the distribution of leaflets in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line.”[6]

6. On June 13, 2020, Kim Yo-jong stated that the DPRK would end the military agreement (CMA), “‘which is hardly of any value,’ while calling North Korean defectors who send leaflets from the South ‘human scum’ and ‘mongrel dogs.’”[7]

7. On June 16, 2020, North Korea blew up the joint liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The liaison office was situated in North Korea’s territory but built with South Korean funds, designed to facilitate dialogue between the two countries. “North Korea claimed the leaflets violated the deal Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in struck in 2018 at their first summit, when both leaders agreed to cease ‘all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets’ along their shared border.”[8]

8. Four hours later, the ROK Blue House announced that it would investigate those who disseminated leaflets into North Korea and would continue to uphold the 4.27 Panmunjom Declaration and 9.19 Military Agreement.[9]

9. ROK National Assemblyman and ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Song Young-gil, chair of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, proposed an amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act. This Amendment was passed by South Korea’s National Assembly on December 14, 2020 and was signed into law by President Moon Jae-In on December 29, 2020. It will enter into force on March 30, 2021.[10]

10. According to North Korean human rights civil society organizations and former and current officials in South Korea, “The Song Young-Gil Amendment (North Korean Information Gag Law) criminalizes (1) broadcasting of loudspeakers and posting of placards directed at North Korea in the inter-Korean border area, (2) distribution of “leaflets, etc.” to unspecified multiple persons in North Korea for the purpose of propaganda, gifts, etc. without governmental approval, and (3) movement of “leaflets, etc.” to North Korea for the purpose of propaganda, gifts, etc., including simply moving “leaflets, etc.” via a third country, without governmental approval. While the first category applies only to activities in the inter-Korean border area, the latter two have no such geographical restriction. “The leaflets, etc.” are defined broadly and vaguely to include not only leaflets but also USB flash drives and CDs, books and other publications, humanitarian aid or money. All these offenses as well as attempted offenses are punishable up to 3 years imprisonment or 30 million KRW fine.” [approximately $27,173 USD][11]

11. According to Assemblyman Song Young-gil and Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-Myung, the Amendment is necessary to ensure the safety and security of Koreans living in the border area.[12]


ROK Domestic Legal Obligations

As written, the Amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act gives rise to several legal issues. The key provisions of the Amendment are as follows:[13]

Article 4


(5) “Leaflets or other items” are defined as, items (including but not limited to advertising propaganda materials, printed materials, auxiliary memory units), cash and other property profits.

(6) “Dissemination” is defined as distributing leaflets to unspecified individuals in North Korea or moving them to North Korea (including the simple movement of leaflets and other items via a third country) without obtaining approval under Article 13 or 20 of “Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act” for the purpose of propaganda, donation, etc.

Article 24 (Prohibition of Violation of the Inter-Korean Agreement)

(1) No person shall harm the lives or bodies of the people or cause serious danger by doing any of the following activities:

1. Loudspeaker broadcasting toward North Korea in areas along the Military Demarcation Line.

2. Posting visual media (posts) toward North Korea in areas along the Military Demarcation Line.

3. Disseminating leaflets or other items.

(2) The Minister of Unification may, if necessary to prevent prohibited activities under each subparagraph of paragraph (1), request cooperation from the head of the relevant central administrative agency or the head of a local government. In such cases, the head of the relevant central administrative agency or the head of a local government shall cooperate, except in extenuating circumstances.

Article 25 (Penalty Provisions)

(1) Any person who has violated Article 24:

1. Shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 3 years or by fine not exceeding 30 million won. However, the provision shall not apply when South-North Korean agreements are suspended (this shall be limited to actions prohibited by Article 24(1)) based on Article 23(2) and (3).

2. A person who has attempted any crime under paragraph (1) shall be punished.


I. Statutory Analysis & Jurisdictional Considerations

The first issue with these provisions as written pertains to the definition of “leaflets or other items” and how it is used in the context of Article 24. The ROK Ministry of Unification (the “MOU”) claimed that the Amendment had to be passed in order to protect its residents in the border region and improve inter-Korean relations and peace on the peninsula.[14] Indeed, the MOU announced that it would plan such legislation just hours after Kim Yo-jong’s blistering statements against the leaflets in the border region, evidently to meet North Korea’s demands.[15] Putting the political and policy-related merits of such a decision aside, the Amendment goes much farther than what it was seemingly intended to achieve.

Unlike Articles 24(1)1 and 2, the prohibition on disseminating leaflets or other items (Article 24(1)3) is not constrained to the “areas along the Military Demarcation Line” (MDL). The provided definition of “dissemination” explicitly includes “the simple movement of leaflets and other items via a third country.” A plain reading of Article 4 and 24 suggests that the dissemination of leaflets or other items from a location other than the MDL would also be criminalized by the Amendment. The MOU released an interpretive guidance of sorts after the Amendment was passed to explain that “‘leaflets sent to North Korea simply via a third county’ refers to an exceptional case in which leaflets and other items scattered from South Korea are sent to North Korea via a third country due to tidal current or air current.”[16]Geographical and logistical realities suggest that the only realistic location other than South Korea from which leaflets or other items can be sent into North Korea is China via its border with North Korea. It seems that any dissemination of leaflets or other items into North Korea through the Sino-North Korea border is also criminalized by the Amendment, which appears to overshoot the legislative intent.

Even beyond the lack of geographical constraints, the list of items that are included in the definition of “leaflets or other items” seems to go beyond the goal and stated purpose of the Amendment. The definition includes any printed materials, auxiliary memory units, cash and “other property profits,” and the MOU has explained that such items were included because many balloons that carry leaflets contain such items. But effectively, such prohibition would arguably include (but not be limited to) the following items, many of which were not the subject of Kim Yo-jong’s stated objections: books, foreign news publications, religious literatures, humanitarian aid such as food, medicine and clothing, mini-radios, and multimedia units such as VHS, CD/DVD, and cassette tapes. This means that parties like humanitarian workers, religious missionaries, civil society organizations, and even individuals that want to send cash remittances to family members in North Korea could get swept up by the Amendment.

As if the implications were not already massive enough, another layer of consideration is that the reach of the ROK’s criminal jurisdiction appears expansive. The general provisions in the ROK’s criminal code can be applied to “both Korean nationals and aliens who commit crimes in the territory of the Republic of Korea,”[17] “all Korean nationals who commit crimes outside the territory of the Republic of Korea,”[18] “aliens who commit crimes on board a Korean vessel or Korean aircraft outside the territory of the Republic of Korea,”[19] aliens who commit a specified list of crimes outside the territory of the Republic of Korea,[20] and “aliens who commit crimes […] against the Republic of Korea or her nationals outside the territory of the Republic of Korea.”[21] Especially as technological advances may allow for various kinds of electronic dissemination of “leaflets or other items” into North Korea in the future, Korean nationals and foreign nationals anywhere in the world may arguably be criminalized by the Amendment, and it is hard to justify prohibiting items and activities that have little to no implications for the inter-Korean border area.

The ROK government would likely say that many of these humanitarian or religious activities unrelated to leafletting would be exempt because they do not “harm the lives or bodies of the people or cause serious danger” in the same way that leafletting does. However, the same argument applies to leafletting. The dissemination of leaflets is arguably not the root cause of the harm or serious danger referenced by the Amendment, any more than the provision of humanitarian services or cash remittances is, and the Amendment seems to implicitly acknowledge this fact—as written, the dissemination of leaflets or other items seems to be a crime only if it results in such harm or serious danger. In actuality, the threat to national security, civilians’ safety, or public order that the ROK government seeks to mitigate stems from a byproduct of the leafletting: North Korea’s provocative statements and hostile postures in relation to the leafletting. In effect, the Amendment is not imposing a criminal punishment on a person for committing a specific act; instead, the criminalized act depends on a reaction from a third party. Indeed, the MOU’s interpretive guidance states that “punishment can be inflicted only when there is an action of disseminating leaflets, and when the actions pose serious danger to the lives and safety of our nationals.”[22]

As such, North Korea’s reactions to leafletting and any complaints and threats that it may communicate about other activities may very well be the biggest determinant in what is ultimately legislated and enforced as crimes under the Amendment—and given North Korea’s penchant for unpredictability and volatility, this is not a sound approach to criminal law. In fairness, the act of leafletting at the MDL did result in a skirmish in 2014 that involved North Korea firing an anti-aircraft gun to shoot down balloons from South Korea carrying leaflets and the ROK army firing back,[23] which cannot be said for most comparable humanitarian activities. However, this was an incident from over six years ago that is, tragically, not unfamiliar to the MDL, and it did not harm any South Korean citizens in the border regions. Though the MOU cites this incident as an important backdrop to the Amendment, this is not a strong justification given the rights that it infringes upon.


II. Infringement of Fundamental Rights

Because even if it were true, however, that the act of disseminating leaflets or other items is being punished by its own merits independent of a reaction from North Korea, this raises other issues. The ROK Constitution states that “all citizens shall enjoy freedom of speech and the press, and freedom of assembly and association.”[24] As the ROK government has noted in its defense of the Amendment,[25] however, such freedom of expression is not unlimited, as the ROK Constitution also states, “The freedoms and rights of citizens may be restricted by law only when necessary for national security, the maintenance of law and order or for public welfare. Even when such restriction is imposed, no essential aspect of the freedom or right shall be violated.”[26] The Amendment, however, is not an appropriate restriction and curtailment of the free expression rights guaranteed in the ROK Constitution, for many of the reasons outlined above and because it falls short of the long-standing international legal principles of necessity and proportionality as they pertain to restrictions on fundamental rights.[27]

The necessity of the Amendment is questionable and unclear. There is no declared emergency, and given the historical backdrop of inter-Korean relations, any current “tension” claimed by the ROK government is not beyond normal bounds; the last realized danger to lives and bodies due to leafletting took place in 2014 which resulted in zero injuries or casualties—there is no “direct and immediate connection between the expression and the threat.”[28] In fact, it seems that a separate law like the Amendment is not needed in order to maintain peace and order near the MDL. In the MOU’s defense of the Amendment, it cites a ROK Supreme Court ruling from 2016, which “ruled that freedom of expression cannot be guaranteed under the Constitution for the flying of leaflets which threatens the safety and lives of the people,”[29] and the ROK government claims that it is simply codifying this ruling into law. However, the fuller passage of the ruling presents far more nuance. The ruling, rather than endorsing the criminalization of leafletting by law, states that police officers and military personnel “may restrain the act of flying of balloons carrying anti-North leaflets in response to such a clear and present danger if it creates the said danger in accordance with article 5 (1) of the Act on the Performance of Duties by Police Officers or article 761 (2) of the Civil Code and, provided that the said restriction is not excessive, such restraining act cannot be considered unlawful.”[30] This ruling actually cuts against the ROK government’s argument, as enforcement personnel already have the authority to respond to any clear and present dangers, even without the Amendment.

But even if such a legislation were necessary, the Amendment also falls short of the proportionality principle. A central tenet of proportionality requires consideration as to whether any government restriction is the “least restrictive means” for achieving the relevant purpose.[31] As discussed above, the Amendment’s definition of “leaflets or other items” is left ambiguous and wanting: it essentially amounts to “items, cash, and other property profits” with “items” supplemented by a parenthetical of non-exhaustive examples and “other property profits” left vague. In addition, the leaflet-related prohibition lacks a tailored geographical scope, and these aspects combine to create a government response that is not the “least restrictive means.”[32]


III. Excessive Punishment

Even the prescribed punishments seem to be incongruent with the prohibited act. Article 25(1)1 prescribes a punishment “by imprisonment for not more than 3 years or by fine not exceeding 30 million won” for offenders of the Amendment. The MOU justifies this by explaining that it is “the same level of punishment applied to the unapproved taking out or bringing in of goods between the two Koreas based on the ‘Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act,’”[33] and the definition of “dissemination” specifically cites Articles 13 and 20 of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act. The issue, however, is that the acts being punished by the Amendment and the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act are very different in nature. Article 13 relates to the taking out or bringing in of goods between the Koreas “for the purposes of sale, exchange, lease, loan for use, donation, use, etc.” (as specified by Article 2.3), and Article 20 relates to the operation of transportation equipment (defined as “any ship, aircraft, railroad vehicles, or motor vehicles, etc.”).[34] These relevant sections of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act deal with the transport of goods for mostly commercial purposes, which may justify a punishment that involves imprisonment and a hefty fine. On the other hand, the Amendment prohibits leafletting and the sharing of information, which is, at its core, an exercise of one’s right to freedom of expression. Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, states that the punishment of imprisonment may violate the proportionality principle, and such a penalty “seems to be excessive for actions which are based on the exercise of the freedom of expression, [a] cornerstone for [a] democratic society. The bill doesn’t provide reasons to justify the use of this criminal punishment instead of sanctions from other branches of the law.”[35]


IV. Implications of Existing Inter-Korean Agreements

The MOU also cites to various other inter-Korean agreements meant to promote peace on the peninsula and improve relations between the Koreas, to show that the two countries agreed to ban mutual slander and leaflet drops on multiple occasions and that the Amendment merely seeks to codify such existing inter-Korean agreements.[36] For example, Article 2.1 of the Panmunjom Declaration of 2018 states, “The two sides agreed to completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain including land, sea and air that are the root cause of military tension and conflicts. For the present, they agreed to stop all the hostile acts including the loud-speaker broadcasting and scattering of leaflets in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line.”[37]

However, this argument is also problematic. For one, such agreements place obligations on the DPRK and ROK governments without reference to actions by private parties; it is not clear that such bilateral agreements can allow the ROK to opt out of its constitutional and international obligations to respect and observe fundamental human rights norms, such as the freedom of expression. But even if this were not an issue, the Panmunjom Declaration specifies the geographic scope of the countries’ respective obligations to the areas along the MDL. As discussed above, the Amendment provides no such limitation for leafletting.


ROK International Legal Obligations

In addition to the issues identified above–statutory and jurisdictional considerations, infringement on fundamental rights, excessive punishments, and implications of existing inter-Korean agreements–the Amendment gives rise to several international legal issues based on the ROK’s international human rights treaty obligations and United Nations (UN) membership. 


V. Contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As a UN Member State, South Korea has agreed to support the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), recognizing that “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”[38] Enshrined in the UDHR are the right to freedom of thought, conscious or religion (Article 18), the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19), and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20). As discussed in part above, the Amendment contravenes the right to freedom of opinion and expression by prohibiting “leaflets, etc.” from being “disseminated” to North Korea. In addition, for private citizens who are sending Bibles or religious materials to North Koreans–who have no right to practice their own religion or have their own beliefs–the Amendment infringes on the right to freedom of thought, conscious or religion. South Koreans or others imparting information or religious materials into North Korea are restricted from this practice in contravention of the UDHR. Moreover, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association is restricted by this Amendment. Organizations dedicated to gathering and sending information, goods, such as USBs, or financial support back home would be unable to safely carry out their activities under the Amendment as written.


VI. Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

On April 10, 1990, South Korea acceded to the ICCPR.[39] As a signatory to the ICCPR, the South Korean government is obligated to uphold and not violate certain human rights for South Korean citizens. The relevant provisions of the ICCPR are as follows:[40]

Article 18

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 19

1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.

2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

Article 22

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those which are prescribed by law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on members of the armed forces and of the police in their exercise of this right.

3. Nothing in this article shall authorize States Parties to the International Labour Organisation Convention of 1948 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize to take legislative measures which would prejudice, or to apply the law in such a manner as to prejudice, the guarantees provided for in that Convention.

As such, three fundamental human rights are infringed upon by the Amendment: (1) the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Article 18); (2) the right to freedom of expression (Article 19); and (3) the right to freedom of association with others (Article 22). Like the arguments discussed in the domestic application of the Amendment, the South Korean state has a duty to uphold and protect these rights, and the justifications and responses by the ROK government are not adequate or appropriate here. While the original issue may have been, as alleged by North Korea, the content of leaflets, the Amendment overreaches in its response and application to North Korea’s illegal, escalatory, and threatening acts and statements. Other items, types of information, and remittances are sent into North Korea for the benefit of a vulnerable and severely repressed people. This often includes religious materials, and the ROK government’s blanket ban on “leaflets, etc.”, as a result, infringes on people’s rights in the South to freedom of religion.

Furthermore, North Korea has an “absolute monopoly on information and total control over organized social life,”[41] yet civil society organizations in South Korea and elsewhere seek to impart information on this repressed society, as they know the potential impacts information of the outside world may have on their North Korean brothers and sisters. People have a fundamental human right to express themselves without interference and to not only receive information, but to “impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” This is what civil society organizations are doing when they send leaflets, however they may be perceived by a government.

As previously mentioned, South Korea may restrict such activity for national security or public safety reasons, but there has only been one incident or cause for alarm made by North Korea. As Special Rapporteur Quintana stated,

Limitations to freedom of expression further require to justify a clear necessity, in particular by establishing a direct and immediate connection between the expression and the threat. In this regard, the necessity to prevent harm to the life or bodies of people or serious damages in border areas is a legitimate purpose. However, it has not been demonstrated a direct and immediate connection between all cross-border actions of civil society organizations and that kind of threat, other than the scattering of leaflets some years ago.[42]

Likewise, the CMA clearly is a bilateral military agreement between North and South Korea, and as such, does not apply to private citizens sending in “leaflets, etc.” Nevertheless, while a State may impose certain restrictions “as necessary,” there are already restrictions in place in the MDL and a police force that has, at times, taken steps “as necessary” to prohibit leaflets from being sent into North Korea, as previously outlined above. There is no appropriate justification to now ban all leaflets, goods, and remittances from being sent into North Korea, especially since this overbroad and unnecessarily restrictive and punitive legislation infringes on fundamental human rights.

Necessarily, some of these activities to send in information, goods, and remittances, involve more than one person joined together in collective action to pursue their interests, which implicates the right to freedom of association. Groups, civil society organizations, and families may work together to send their loved ones in the North support, whether it be monetary or information based. Sadly, due to the severe human rights restrictions in North Korea, South Koreans and others have little choice in the means in which they send their love and support home, but they are often joined together in South Korea by their shared desire to improve the lives of their loved ones. This Amendment would restrict their ability to gather and associate under a common mission and spirit.

In addition, the Amendment’s Article 25 (Penalty Provisions) ensures a harm calculus based on North Korea’s acts, not on those of the information sender. Without question, this targets North Korean escapees and other private citizens, rather than addressing the fundamental issue—North Korea’s disrespect for its international and bilateral agreements and its severe restrictions on human rights, at times constituting crimes against humanity.[43] Moreover, the principles of proportionality and necessity are violated with the Amendment, as discussed in the domestic portion of this memo and by Special Rapporteur Quintana. South Korea already has means to restrict leaflets in the MDL as warranted, and this Amendment unnecessarily criminalizes such behavior deemed by the Amendment as illegal (and by North Korea as hostile).

Of course, the Amendment is not just about leaflets, as the National Assembly had to clarify that “leaflets, etc.” mean flyers, goods (including advertisements and propaganda materials, printed materials, auxiliary memory devices, etc.) and money or other property profits. In fact, while strong legal arguments have been made to argue that the Amendment violates ROK domestic and international legal obligations, this Amendment is largely a political issue and therefore a matter of policy. Not only does this Amendment hurt North Korean escapees and South Korean civil society organizations in its infringements on human rights guaranteed by the ROK Constitution and the ICCPR–which in itself should be too heavy of a price to pay for appeasing the North–it creates second-order effects on innocent North Koreans who depend on these goods and remittances to survive and on information to join the rest of the world—despite being born under a regime that views information and upholding human rights in general as a threat to regime survival.


Policy Considerations

The people working to send in information and to improve North Korean human rights, especially those who are North Korean escapees, are brave, creative, and resilient, but the North Korean human rights community will be forced to think of new ways to overcome the ROK's Amendment should it go into effect on March 30, 2021 as planned. As we have seen, there is great concern by the international community and human rights organizations that the Amendment goes too far and improperly infringes on fundamental rights, thus penalizing North Korean escapees and civil society organizations, rather than standing up for the application of freedom and justice and the oppressed North Korean people. Should South Korea bend in its typical staunch defense of democratic principles under threat by the Kim regime, this may signal a weakness and vulnerability to North Korea ripe for exploitation. Without question, this Amendment seems to show that South Korea is willing to trade its democratic principles and values for the hope of appeasement with a regime that never abides by its own agreements or has true concern or desire to peacefully unify the Korean peninsula.

In addition, the nature of the Amendment conflicts with the idea that South Korea and the United States have shared values, which potentially puts strain on a very important and otherwise resilient alliance that has operated now successfully for decades. The U.S. North Korean Human Rights Act, which is up for reauthorization again soon, will need to be reviewed more closely to find ways to manage this apparent issue.

This Amendment should be repealed before it goes into force on March 30, 2021.


Annex: References

1. Agreement on the Implementation of the Military Consensus in the Panmunjom Declaration (Referred to as the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA)), September 19, 2018, https://eastasiaresearch.org/2018/09/30/historic-panmunjom-declaration-in-the-military-domain-south-korea-north-korea-military-agreement-signed-on-2018-9-19/ (unofficial translation).

2. Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018 [English], September 18, 2018, https://english1.president.go.kr/BriefingSpeeches/Briefings/322.

3. Panmunjom Declaration on Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, April 27, 2018, http://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5478/view.do?seq=319130&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=1&titleNm=.

4. Amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act [English, unofficial translation by NK Pro, December 13, 2020].

5. Inter-Korean Relations Development Act [English] (Act No. 7763, Dec. 29, 2005; Amended by Act No. 12584, May 20, 2014; Act No. 15431, Mar. 13, 2018), https://elaw.klri.re.kr/eng_mobile/viewer.do?hseq=47876&type=sogan&key=14.

6. Constitution of the Republic of Korea [English], https://elaw.klri.re.kr/eng_service/lawView.do?hseq=1&lang=ENG.

7. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx.

8. Policy Report from the Office of Tae Yong-ho, Anti-Leaflet Law in South Korea & Freedom of Expression in North Korea, January 5, 2021.

9. Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR), Justice For North Korea, Mulmangcho, Improving North Korean Human Rights Center, and the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), UN Petition Concerning the Song Young-Gil Amendment to the Inter-Korean Relations Development Act (North Korean information gag law), December 30, 2021, https://en.tjwg.org/2020/12/30/un-petition-north-korean-information-gag-law/.

10. Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, Letter to the Honorable Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, January 31, 2021, http://m.kmib.co.kr/view.asp?arcid=0015484894.

11. Former Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo, Open Letter to the US Congress Human Rights Commission by Governor Kim Opposing South Korea’s Anti-Leaflet Law Criminalizing Leaflet Sending to North Korea [English], February 3, 2021, https://eastasiaresearch.org/2021/02/08/open-letter-to-the-us-congress-human-rights-commission-by-governor-kim-opposing-south-koreas-anti-leaflet-law-criminalizing-leaflet-sending-to-north-korea/.

12. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea**, A/75/50326, October 14, 2020.

13. UN Human Rights Council, 43/... Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, A/HRC/43/L.17, March 20, 2020.

14. Young-Gil SONG, “Understanding Recent Revisions to the “Inter-Korean Relations Development Act,” 38 North, December 20, 2020, https://www.38north.org/2020/12/ysong122120/.

15. UN Human Rights Council, 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, February 14, 2021, https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/A_HRC_25_CRP_1_ENG%20LONG.pdf.

16. Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act, https://www.law.go.kr/lsInfoP.do?lsiSeq=105245&viewCls=engLsInfoR#0000.

17. [단독]킨타나 “대북전단금지법, 국제 인권표준에 도전, dongA, December 17, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/article/all/20201217/104482008/1 [in Korean, but it contains an official statement in English from Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].



[1] “DPRK FM on Its Stand to Suspend Its Participation in Six-party Talks for Indefinite Period,” Korean Central News Agency, February 10, 2005,https://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/dprk/2005/dprk-050211-kcna01.htm.

[2] Inter-Korean Relations Development Act [English], Act No. 7763, Dec. 29, 2005; Amended by Act No. 12584, May 20, 2014; Act No. 15431, Mar. 13, 2018, https://elaw.klri.re.kr/eng_mobile/viewer.do?hseq=47876&type=sogan&key=14.

[3] Panmunjom Declaration on Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula, April 27, 2018, http://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5478/view.do?seq=319130&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=1&titleNm=.

[4] Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018 [English], September 18, 2018, https://english1.president.go.kr/BriefingSpeeches/Briefings/322.

[5] Agreement on the Implementation of the Military Consensus in the Panmunjom Declaration (Referred to as the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA)), September 19, 2018, https://eastasiaresearch.org/2018/09/30/historic-panmunjom-declaration-in-the-military-domain-south-korea-north-korea-military-agreement-signed-on-2018-9-19/ (unofficial translation).

[6] 조선중앙통신사, “김여정제1부부장 반공화국삐라살포에 북남군사합의파기 경고,” KCNA, June 4, 2020, http://www.kcna.co.jp/calendar/2020/06/06-04/2020-0604-004.html [in Korean]. Kim Yo-jong is a Vice-Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD) under the power Organization and Guidance Department (OGD). The PAD is “the organization that oversees the distribution of all information. Combined, the OGD and the PAD form a symbiotic relationship to violate fundamental human rights in North Korea, as they determine the information that can be seen and accessed by the population, and disseminate this information using the media, art, and group indoctrination sessions.” Since November 2017, she has been sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury for censorship activities. Robert Collins, The Organization and Guidance Department: Kim’s Control Tower of Human Rights Denial (Washington, D.C.: Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2019), XV, 83, https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/Collins_OGD_Web.pdf.

[7] Kim Tong-Hyung, “Kim Jong Un’s sister threatens S. Korea with military action,” AP, June 13, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/d2156411d6b432afeef371ac27bca23d.

[8] Joshua Berlinger, Jake Kwon and Yoonjung Seo, “North Korea blows up liaison office in Kaesong used for talks with South,” CNN, June 16, 2020, https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/16/asia/north-korea-explosion-intl-hnk/index.html. For a comprehensive background and discussion on the Moon administration’s targeting of North Korean escapee groups working in South Korea, see reference 9 in the Appendix.

[9] 박경준, “청와대 "삐라는 백해무익…안보위해에 단호 대응할 것,"”연합뉴스, June 4, 2020, https://www.yna.co.kr/view/AKR20200604085651001 [in Korean].

[10] Amendment to the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act [English, unofficial translation by NK Pro, December 13, 2020].

[11] Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR), Justice For North Korea, Mulmangcho, Improving North Korean Human Rights Center, and the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), UN Petition Concerning the Song Young-Gil Amendment to the Inter-Korean Relations Development Act (North Korean information gag law) (December 30, 2021). See also Policy Report from the Office of Tae Yong-ho, Anti-Leaflet Law in South Korea & Freedom of Expression in North Korea, January 5, 2021, and Former Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo, Open Letter to the US Congress Human Rights Commission by Governor Kim Opposing South Korea’s Anti-Leaflet Law Criminalizing Leaflet Sending to North Korea [English], February 3, 2021, https://eastasiaresearch.org/2021/02/08/open-letter-to-the-us-congress-human-rights-commission-by-governor-kim-opposing-south-koreas-anti-leaflet-law-criminalizing-leaflet-sending-to-north-korea/.

[12] Song Young-Gil, “Understanding Recent Revisions to the ‘Inter-Korean Relations Development Act,’” 38 North, December 20, 2020,https://www.38north.org/2020/12/ysong122120/; Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung, Letter to the Honorable Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, January 31, 2021, http://m.kmib.co.kr/view.asp?arcid=0015484894.

[13] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets”, The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255.

[14] Id.

[15] “South Korean balloons: Plans to stop people sending cross-border messages”, BBC, June 4, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-52917029.

[16] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets”, The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255.

[17] Criminal Act, Part I, Ch. I, Art. 2, Korea Legislation Research Institute, Korea Law Translation Center, https://elaw.klri.re.kr/eng_service/lawView.do?hseq=28627&lang=ENG.

[18] Id. at Art. 3.

[19] Id. at Art. 4.

[20] Id. at Art. 5.

[21] Id. at Art. 6.

[22] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets”, The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255.

[23] Cho, Joohee, “Koreas Trade Gunfire as Kim Jong-Un Mystery Deepens,” ABC News, October 10, 2014, https://abcnews.go.com/International/koreas-trade-gunfire-kim-jong-mystery-deepens/story?id=26097426.

[24] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, Ch. II, Art. 21(1), July 12, 1948, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b4dd14.html.

[25] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets”, The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255. See also, Byun, Duk-kun, “FM says freedom of expression can be limited over leafleting ban,” Yonhap News Agency, December 17, 2020, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20201217001000325.

[26] Constitution of the Republic of Korea, Ch. II, Art. 37(2), July 12, 1948, https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b4dd14.html.

[27] Callamard, Agnes, “Freedom of Expression and National Security: Balancing for Protection,” Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, December 2015, https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/A-Callamard-National-Security-and-FoE-Training.pdf.

[28] [단독]킨타나 “대북전단금지법, 국제 인권표준에 도전, dongA, December 17, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/article/all/20201217/104482008/1[in Korean, but it contains an official statement in English from Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].

[29] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets”, The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255.

[30] “UN Petition concerning the Song Young-Gil Amendment to the Inter-Korean Relations Development Act (North Korean Information Gag Law)”, Transitional Justice Working Group, December 30, 2020, https://en.tjwg.org/2020/12/30/un-petition-north-korean-information-gag-law/.

[31] Callamard, Agnes, “Freedom of Expression and National Security: Balancing for Protection”, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, December 2015, https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/A-Callamard-National-Security-and-FoE-Training.pdf.

[32] [단독]킨타나 “대북전단금지법, 국제 인권표준에 도전, dongA, December 17, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/article/all/20201217/104482008/1[in Korean, but it contains an official statement in English from Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].

[33] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets,” The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255.

[34] Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Act, https://www.law.go.kr/lsInfoP.do?lsiSeq=105245&viewCls=engLsInfoR#0000.

[35] [단독]킨타나 “대북전단금지법, 국제 인권표준에 도전, dongA, December 17, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/article/all/20201217/104482008/1[in Korean, but it contains an official statement in English from Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].

[36] “On the amended provisions of ‘the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act’ for disseminating leaflets,” The Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, December 2020, https://www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/news/releases/?boardId=bbs_0000000000000034&mode=view&cntId=54255.

[37] “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula (2018.4.27),” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 11, 2018, https://www.mofa.go.kr/eng/brd/m_5478/view.do?seq=319130&srchFr=&srchTo=&srchWord=&srchTp=&multi_itm_seq=0&itm_seq_1=0&itm_seq_2=0&company_cd=&company_nm=&page=1&titleNm=.

[38] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1948, https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html.

[39] Ratification Status for Republic of Korea, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=141&Lang=EN.

[40] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, entry into force 23 March 1976, in accordance with Article 49, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx.

[41] UN Human Rights Council, 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, February 14, 2014, https://www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/A_HRC_25_CRP_1_ENG%20LONG.pdf.

[42] [단독]킨타나 “대북전단금지법, 국제 인권표준에 도전, dongA, December 17, 2020, https://www.donga.com/news/article/all/20201217/104482008/1[in Korean, but it contains an official statement in English from Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea].

[43] Id.