Ambassador Richard Williamson passed away in December 2013 at the age of 64. He was a member of the HRNK Board of Directors.
It is with extraordinary sadness that the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) announces the sudden passing of Board member Richard Salisbury Williamson, American thought leader, diplomat, lawyer and teacher. Ambassador Williamson served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and as United States Ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs. HRNK will always remember Ambassador Williamson’s commitment to shedding light on North Korea’s human rights violations. While serving as Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2004, he gave strong support to the UN’s appointment of a special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea. He recognized the importance of concentrating a special international focus on the human rights situation in that country and spoke out to help bring freedom and democracy to the people of North Korea. His profound commitment to the promotion of democratic values extended worldwide. As United States Special Envoy for Sudan, he played an important role in speaking out against genocide in Darfur. His book, America’s Mission in the World: Principles, Practices and Predicaments, published in 2009, expressed the need to expand human rights, democracy and freedom in countries and regions throughout the world. This year he co-authored a widely publicized report with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the responsibility to protect. In it, he called for a United States commitment to promote protection for civilians from genocide and other forms of mass atrocity. HRNK lost an extremely capable advocate of North Korean human rights and a true leader in the fight for freedom worldwide. Ambassador Williamson’s work continues to set a shining example for HRNK’s future.
Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director
Roberta Cohen and Andrew Natsios, Co-Chairs, Board of Directors
Jaehoon Ahn, a member of the HRNK Board of Directors, passed away in June 2011.
As a native son of Pyongyang whose family was forced to flee after Kim Il-sung's takeover, Mr. Ahn personally understood the unique urgency of promoting North Korean human rights.
Before joining HRNK, Mr. Ahn brought rigor and integrity to his many journalistic endeavors. He served as a correspondent for JoongAng Ilbo, a researcher for The Washington Post, and founding director of Radio Free Asia's Korean Service. His hard work and persistence in building the Korean Service from scratch helped to establish Radio Free Asia as an important source of information on both sides of the 38th parallel.
Mr. Ahn's knowledge, passion, and team spirit enabled HRNK to make the best use of its diverse range of talent and opinions.
HRNK lost an extremely capable advocate of North Korean human rights and a widely respected human being. Jaehoon Ahn was a mentor to many, and an inspiration to all.
HRNK was saddened to lose Fred C. Iklé in 2011. One of the earliest and most consistent supporters of HRNK, Mr. Iklé leveraged his many connections to secure important sources of funding for the fledgling organization in its early years.
Mr. Iklé enhanced HRNK’s credibility by bringing a lifetime of service and achievement to the Board, including but not limited to his role as architect of U.S. nuclear defense strategy under President Ronald Reagan. He made significant contributions to the policy community following his government service through his years as a Distinguished Fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and as a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), among others.
HRNK has become a strong organization with a record of original research and well-received publications on North Korean human rights in no small part because of Mr. Iklé's ideas, passion, and reputation.
Ambassador James R. Lilley passed away in November 2009 at the age of 81. He was a former Co-Chair of the HRNK Board of Directors.
Ambassador Lilley served for decades in the diplomatic, intelligence, and policy communities. After a career as a CIA operative in Asia, he served as director of the American Institute in Taiwan, Ambassador to South Korea, and Ambassador to China. He earned a reputation as a consummate Asia hand, receiving effusive praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Ambassador Lilley "one of our nation's finest diplomats;" President George H.W. Bush remarked that Lilley was a "most knowledgeable and effective ambassador who served with great honor and distinction."
Ambassador Lilley balanced a pragmatic, bipartisan approach with passionate advocacy for human rights. Responding to the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 in China, Lilley maintained a principled but careful approach that allowed the United States to express its negative reaction to the incident without permanently debilitating US-China relations.
The 2012 Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korean Human Rights Act, the most significant legislative accomplishment for the North Korean human rights community in the United States, is a testament to the spirit of bipartisan comity and pragmatic idealism that Ambassador Lilley brought to HRNK.
Ambassador Lilley's leadership continues to set a shining example for HRNK's future.
Stephen J. Solarz, a former US Representative from New York and a Co-Chair of the HRNK Board of Directors, passed away in 2010 after a fight with esophageal cancer. He was 70.
Congressman Solarz left behind a legacy of service, congressional leadership, and personal diplomacy in over 100 countries as a leading voice on foreign policy and human rights in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1980, he flew from Pretoria to Pyongyang to become the first American politician to visit North Korea and meet with Kim Il-sung, an experience which reinforced his conviction that North Korea is "truly the most repressive regime in the world, bar none." For his extensive diplomacy and foreign travel, Congressman Solarz earned the moniker of "the Marco Polo of Congress."
Most importantly, Congressman Solarz brought his longstanding record of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy and human rights issues to HRNK. In the face of significant opposition from many members of his own party in the House of Representatives, Congressman Solarz worked with the respected Republican House Minority Leader Bob Michel to build bipartisan support for the resolution that authorized the Gulf War. His bipartisanship extends to North Korean human rights issues; the 2012 Ambassador James R. Lilley and Congressman Stephen J. Solarz North Korean Human Rights Act bears his name and that of his Republican colleague James R. Lilley, a fellow Board member of HRNK.
Congressman Solarz brought ideas, connections, and credible leadership to HRNK. He urged HRNK to send its recommendations to the Obama administration. Congressman Solarz guided and inspired HRNK beginning in its early years. HRNK is a respected, bipartisan organization today because Congressman Solarz helped to pave the way.
In Illicit: North Korea’s Evolving Operations to Earn Hard Currency, Sheena Chestnut Greitens provides a detailed and thoroughly researched account of the role of illicit activities in the North Korean economy. A central conclusion of Chestnut Greitens’ analysis is that in the context of eroding state control over the licit aspects of the economy, illicit activities are also being “privatized” by North Korea’s elite. As HRNK Co-chair and for
David Hawk interprets reports of changes in North Korea's political prison camps in his most recent report, North Korea's Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps. Please view the press release here.
The newest version of Coercion, Control, Surveillance, and Punishment: An Examination of the North Korea Police State by Ken Gause, updated on May 24, 2013.
For this report, DigitalGlobe Analytics examined eleven images collected from 2003 to 2013 of the North Korean political prison facility known as Camp 25 (a.k.a. Kwan-liso No. 25, Political Prison Facility No. 25, No. 25 Chongjin Political Concentration Camp, Susŏng Correctional Center) in Susŏng-dong, Ch’ŏngjin-si, Hamgyŏng-bukto, on the northeast coast of the nation. In this analysis, imagery was compared to identify changes in the organization of the camp, including variations in:
As a follow-up to the October 2012 joint HRNK- DigitalGlobe imagery analysis of North Korea’s Camp 22 (Kwan-li-so No. 22, Korean People’s Security Guard Unit 2209), DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center was asked to assist in identifying reported activity in and around Camp 22 in Hamgyŏng-bukto. More specifically, the Analysis Center was to examine: The outer perimeter fence, guard towers and guard positions to determine if some, or all, have been razed. The
During late September 2012, the North Korean activist community began reporting that the notorious political penal labor facility Camp 22 had been closed in early 2012. On October 1, 2012, in response to these reports and in partnership with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center initiated an imagery analysis of Camp 22.
The North Korean government assigns a “songbun” status to every citizen at birth based on the perceived political loyalty of his or her family going back generations. While a small, politically loyal class in North Korea is entitled to extensive privileges, the vast majority of citizens are relegated to a permanent lower status and then discriminated against for reasons they cannot control or change.
Based on extensive interviews with over 60 defectors and more than 40 satellite photos of North Korean political prisoner camps, the report calls for the dismantlement of the vast North Korean gulag system in which 150,000 to 200,000 are incarcerated.
TAKEN! provides an in-depth and comprehensive history and analysis of North Korea’s state-sponsored policy of abducting citizens of other countries. This criminal enterprise dates back to the earliest days of the regime, and to policy decisions made by Kim II-sung himself. Those abducted came from widely diverse backgrounds, numerous nationalities, both genders, and all ages, and were taken from placs as far away as London, Copenhagen, Zagreb, Beirut, Hong Kong, and China, in addition to Japan.
This report calls the world’s attention to the suffering of North Korean women who have become the victims of trafficking and forced marriages after escaping their country to seek a new life in China. Seventy-seven interviews with North Korean women living in China yield 52 personal accounts--life stories of women who leave their home country for survival and safety only to be purchased by Chinese men who abuse and exploit them in China. In spite of finding places to live, North Korean women ent
North Korea today is in a state of power transition that could lead to new dangers, instability, and uncertainty. This was not the case during the first succession. Kim Jong-Il had been carefully groomed by his father to succeed him. The process had gone on for twenty years and was directed by Kim Il-Sung himself. In North Korea, all political power derives from Kim Il-Sung’s reign. At the present, North Korea refers to itself as “Kim Il-Sung’s nati
This report is part of HRNK’s “Occasional Papers,” expressing a viewpoint not necessarily representative of the Committee or its Board of Directors. Rather, this paper is written from the viewpoint of a courageous man who has seen the North Korean system from within and has participated in the workings of that system. The author knows how outcomes are produced in North Korea and which individuals are critical to the political process. Kim Kwang-jin provides an overview of the North K
This report is a sequel to the previous report, “Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea” (2006), which called for the UN Security Council to take action. The report identifies concerns with respect to human rights in North Korea. While North Korea has opened up to some international aid, their food policy and inequitable social classification system (“Songbun”) prevents large segments of the population from ever receiving food provided by i
For over sixty years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has engaged in the systematic, flagrant violation of nearly every human right recognized and protected by international law. This handbook describes the options available to human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) seeking to pursue international legal action against North Korea. The international legal system offers a variety of avenues for action, which NGOs can pursue. This report explores such legal avenues, linking NG
Czech Republic President Havel, Norwegian Prime Minister Bondevik, and Nobel Peace Prize Laurate and Boston University Professor Elie Wiesel commissioned the global law firm DLA Piper LLP to work with the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, because they believed that the security threat posed by North Korea has relegated the human rights concerns in the country to a second-class status. With the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of the doctrine that each state has a “resp
Concentration on the strategic problem in the national security context is clearly warranted, yet there is another, growing dimension to the North Korean problem that poses a grave challenge: the plight of ordinary North Koreans who are denied even the most basic human rights, and those who risk their lives to escape the world’s worst nightmare, the tyranny of the Kim Jong-il regime. In this report, six experts – Stephen Haggard, Marcus Noland, Yoonok Chang, Joshua Kurlantzick, Jana Mason,