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.

APPG Event: A Talk With Sungju Lee – North Korean Refugee and UK Chevening Scholar

Organised by the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea and hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, you are invited to attend an event titled ‘A Talk With Sungju Lee: North Korean Refugee and UK Chevening Scholar’.

Sungju LeeSungju Lee is a North Korean refugee who originally hailed from Pyongyang. Sungju escaped North Korea in 2002 and resettled in South Korea 2003. He went on to study Political Science and Journalism in Sogang University, has interned for Conservative MP Barry Devolin in the Canadian Parliament, and is currently studying in the UK on a Chevening Scholarship.

Sungju and his family lived in Pyongyang where his father was an official in Kim Il Sung’s personal military guard. But when Sungju was ten years of age, Kim Jong Il dismissed the military guard and Sungju’s family moved to the rural north-east of the country. Experiencing unfathomable levels of poverty and food deprivation, Sungju’s parents escaped to China in order to find food. Left alone, Sungju joined a group of teenage boys who would steal and beg for survival. Eventually, Sungju’s father was able to pay for his son to be smuggled across the China-DPRK border and on to freedom in South Korea.

More information on the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea can be found at their website.

The event will take place at 17:00 on Monday 1st February 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.

North Korea Past & Present: Discussion with Yeonmi Park & Jihyun Park

The European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea will be hosting an open meeting on Wednesday 29th October, 5:00-7:00 pm in Committee Room 3A, the Houses of Parliament.

Press Release: Following the great famine of the mid-1990s, North Korea underwent profound and irreversible change. A surge in blackmarket activity – markets which were first established in the early 1980s – following the famine led to the increased fragmentation of a hitherto extremely centralised and oppressive politics. What does that mean for the lives of ordinary North Koreans? The European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea is delighted to invite you to a discussion featuring Yeonmi Park and Jihyun Park at the Houses of Parliament in London on the 29th of October, where they will discuss how the black market has changed their country and what their lives were like in North Korea.

Yeonmi Park
Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park is part of the millennial generation of North Koreans. Born in Hyesan City in 1993, Yeonmi grew up in Pyongyang, experiencing a relatively comfortable lifestyle by comparison to most North Koreans. Her father was imprisoned for selling goods to China, forcing the family to leave Pyongyang. After his release, Yeonmi’s family decided to leave North Korea in 2007. Since arriving in South Korea in 2009, Yeonmi has become prominent as an outspoken human rights activist. She currently co-hosts “North Korea Today” on OTV.

 

Jihyun Park
Jihyun Park

Jihyun Park is EAHRNK’s North Korean Outreach and Project Coordinator. She was born in Chongjin City in the 1960s. After growing up in a fairly middle class family where her mother operated a business in the very earliest black markets, Jihyun entered university. Graduating with a degree in math and science, she went on to become a high school teacher. During the famine, she fled North Korea for China. Jihyun was eventually arrested, repatriated, and sentenced to a period in a labour camp. After being released, she fled North Korea again. After a number of years in China, she came to the UK with her family in 2008.

Although both Jihyun and Yeonmi experienced life in North Korea in an era where the state’s economic control has been eroding, the structure and size of the black market activity and the ability of the state to enforce totalitarian control has greatly shifted in the years following the famine. Their differing experiences pre- and post-famine will ensure the audience understand the nuance of the changes in North Korean society over the past two decades.

Attendance is free and open to the public. Attendees do not have to register, but seating is limited so we recommend arriving at least 45 minutes early. The Houses of Parliament can be accessed via the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.

APPG NK Meeting with Jang Jin-sung

On the 7th May 2014, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea hosted a talk from Mr. Jang Jin-sung, a former DPRK poet laureate and counter-intelligence official under Kim Jong Il. After graduating from Kim Il Sung University, Mr. Jang worked in the United Front Department (UFD), also known as the “window into and out of North Korea”: the UFD is the entity that oversees inter-Korean espionage as well as all forms of engagement, diplomacy and foreign policy. His talents as a poet brought him to the attention of Kim Jong Il, and earned him entry into an inner circle of immunity with Kim’s personal blessing. Mr. Jang’s intimate knowledge and experiences regarding the discrepancies between North Korea’s internal policy-making and its external presentations are unparalleled; and until recently they had not been shared with the West.

Jang Jin-sung and Lord Alton
Jang Jin-sung and Lord Alton

In his role at the UFD, Mr. Jang had open access to foreign media. Such access is extremely privileged and controlled in North Korea, which metes out harsh punishment for those accessing foreign books, films, or news. Disillusioned by the extent of the lies and suffering around him, he began to lend these books to a friend. When the friend misplaced a book in 2004, Mr. Jang was forced to flee the country in order to prevent the destruction of his family that would follow from his confession of “treason” (sharing forbidden knowledge), as according to the North Korean principle of guilt-by-association.

After arriving in South Korea, Mr. Jang worked as a North Korea analyst for the South Korean government. Dismayed by the lack of public understanding about the reality of North Korea and its workings, he left his post to set up New Focus in 2011 – the only media outlet in the world that offers North Korea reporting and analysis rooted in first-hand experience, from inside the workings of the DPRK system, and speaking for all of North Korea’s highest ranking exiles. Mr. Jang believes that a penetrative understanding of North Korea that takes insider perspectives into account must form the basis for any sound commentary or proposals regarding North Korea.

Mr. Jang’s appearance at the APPG coincided with the release of “Dear Leader”, his memoirs which focus on his time working in the highest levels of DPRK policy and intelligence work. Discussing his experiences, insights and new book, Mr. Jang also fielded many questions at the extremely well-attended event (the minutes of which can be found here).

The APPG NK extends its warmest thanks to Mr. Jang’s translator, Ms. Shirley Lee, and to the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea for their help in coordinating and organising the event.