Update: Change of Venue for 2017 International Symposium on North Korean Human Rights

Owing to the pre-election parliamentary recess, the 2017 International Symposium on North Korean Human Rights has changed venues. The Symposium will now take place at Central Hall Westminster (not the Houses of Parliament) from 10:00-18:00 on 18th May 2017.

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Central Hall Westminster [credit: Chris Chabot]
Located directly opposite Westminster Abbey, Central Hall Westminster is a short walk from two underground stations: Westminster (exit 6) or St. James’s Park (exit Broadway) and a 10 minute walk from Victoria train station, a 15 minute walk from Charing Cross train station and a 20 minute walk from Waterloo train station.

The address for Central Hall Westminster is: Storey’s Gate, London, UK, SW1H 9NH. Please proceed directly to the Aldersgate Room.

 

2017 International Symposium on North Korean Human Rights

On May 18th 2017, the All Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, and the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea will co-host the 2017 International Symposium on North Korean Human Rights at Central Hall Westminster (not the Houses of Parliament). Located directly opposite Westminster Abbey, this historic venue’s opulent round dome can be seen from Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge.

The conference will bring together up to 140 politicians, policymakers, civil society representatives, North Korean exiles, scholars, and members of the public to discuss three themes:

1). The role of information inflows and outflows for North Korea;

2). Children’s rights in North Korea with a focus on the UN human rights protection mechanisms; and

3). Strategies for accountability for crimes against humanity.

Registration is required for all who wish to attend the 2017 symposium. To register, please email events@eahrnk.org and include your name and relevant institutional affiliation by 14th May 2017. Attendance is free of charge and lunch will be provided to attendees.

Further information can be found at the conference page here.

Event: The Indoctrination of Children and Incitement to Hate

A North Korean human rights activist and escapee, with direct experience of indoctrination, will speak about the indoctrination of children and incitement to hate in North Korean schools. The meeting will take place at 16:00 in Committee Room 4, the Houses of Parliament, on Wednesday March 22nd.

Attendance is free and open to the public. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.

Event: While They Watched

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The All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea will host a screening of the documentary film ‘While They Watched’ on November 17th at 17:00 in Committee Room 17, the Houses of Parliament.

Using interviews, archival and observational footage, Director Jake J. Smith’s film draws on the power of hindsight and stories from former North Korean gulag soldiers and propaganda agents, ex-leaders of the ‘underground railroad’ through China, professors of Korean history, activists, NGO leaders, and exiles to question whether the international community has done enough to challenge the Government of North Korea.

 

According to Smith, who will be taking questions following the screening:

“The message of this film, and the questions it asks will hopefully touch a nerve with audiences. The defectors’ lives and stories are sometimes so dreadful it’s difficult to accept how this continues to be allowed to occur in the 21st century. We can’t choose where we are born. I count myself lucky to be born in a ‘free’ country and I feel it’s the responsibility of free peoples to help those who are powerless to help themselves.

After reading about North Korea in books, the media and from talking to people here in Korea, I knew I wanted to make a film about the country and it’s people. During my research deeper questions kept creeping into my mind about our relationship to the stories I was reading. The way I decided to construct this film pushes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking, without diminishing the seriousness and extraordinary courage of the activists and defectors who participate in the film.

The decision to set the film in the future was made to compel viewers to ask themselves what they can do today to relieve the continuing humanitarian catastrophe happening in North Korea. By the end of the film I want the audience to be inspired to help change the present, and create a better future for the North Korean people.”

Attendance is free and open to the public. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.

Event: Exiled North Korean Activism

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea will hold two presentations on November 8th at 17:00 in Committee Room 21, the Houses of Parliament.

First, in partnership with the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea, the South Korea-based National Students’ Council of North Korean Human Rights will address the Group. Consisting of 32 chapters at 28 universities across South Korea, the Council hosts conferences, seminars, exhibitions, and a Human Rights Week to engage young people in the quest for the improvement of North Korean human rights.

The guest speaker will be Ji Young Lee, a 29-year-old North Korean exile. As a former member of staff at the Ministry of State Security in North Korea, Lee saw first-hand how the North Korean state systematically violates human rights. Lee will talk about her work today and her experiences of discrimination in North Korea. 

The second presenter will be Seung Hoon Chae, a Ph.D. candidate in Politics at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. Chae will speak on the causes behind the activism of North Korean refugees.

Whereas previous studies of the North Korean diaspora have often sought answers from the refugees’ experiences in the home country, Chae will suggest that reasons for ‘voice’ need not be grounded upon reasons for ‘exit’. Thus a ‘political’ refugee is not necessarily more political in the host country, and an ‘economic’ migrant may realise, post-exit, new political potentials for changing his home country. Based on 83 structured interviews and qualitative assessments of 13 semi-structured interviews, Chae will present a case study of North Korean refugees in the UK to suggest that the voices of North Korean refugees are determined more by who a person is today than who that person was at the point of exiting North Korea.

Attendance is free and open to the public. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the event to clear security and make your way to the Committee Room. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.

 

Event: North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society

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Jieun Baek, a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the University of Oxford, will address the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea on November 2nd at 17:00 in Committee Room 11, the Houses of Parliament.

Jieun Baek is the author of North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is Transforming a Closed Society (which will be published by Yale University Press in November 2016) and a former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Baek received her BA in Government and MA in Public Policy from Harvard and has worked at Google, where, among other roles, she served as Google Ideas’ North Korea expert.

In her talk, Jieun Baek will draw on interviews with North Korean exiles from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, to discuss how North Korea’s information underground — the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content such as foreign films, television shows, soap operas, books, and encyclopedias — have fostered an awareness of life outside North Korea and affected the social and political consciousness of North Koreans.

Attendance is free and open to the public. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.

APPG Event: Breaking North Korea’s Information Blockade

On May 19th, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea will host an event in partnership with No Chain, titled Breaking North Korea’s Information Blockade.

We will hear from North Korean exile, Jung Gwang Il, who will talk about his organisation’s role in smuggling information into North Korea and the methods that North Koreans use to access foreign media.

Formerly a regional manager of a North Korean trading company, Jung Gwang Il was suspected of spying for South Korea and arrested by North Korea’s Ministry of State Security in 1999. Detained in Hoeryong prison camp, Jung was beaten and tortured, living without his teeth – all of which were broken by prison guards – for four years. After forcing a confession and without trial, Jung was sent to the infamous Yodok concentration camp. Witnessing torture, starvation, and innumerable deaths, Jung was released on 12th April 2003 and escaped to China on the 30th April. One year later, Jung arrived in South Korea and now advocates for the rights of North Koreans.

The event will take place at 17:00-18:30 in Committee Room 17, the Houses of Parliament.

Attendance is free and open to the public. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.