"North Korea is truly the most repressive regime in the world, bar none." - Stephen Solarz
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Congressional Hearings
March 26, 2014
HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu testifies on Capitol Hill: "The Shocking Truth about North Korean Tyranny." 
March 05, 2012
Please see the video gallery for a live recording of this hearing.  Unable to Attend in Person Statement of Roberta Cohen, Chair, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution, on China’s Repatriation of North Korean Refugees, at the Hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, March 5, 2012 On behalf of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, I would like to express great appreciation to Congressman Christopher Smith and Senator Sherrod Brown for holding this hearing today to highlight the case of an estimated 30 to 40 North Koreans who fled into China and now risk being forcibly returned to North Korea where they will most assuredly be severely punished. We consider it essential to defend the fundamental rights of North Koreans to leave their country and seek asylum abroad and to call upon China to stop its forcible repatriation of North Koreans and provide them with the needed human rights and humanitarian protection to which they are entitled. The right to leave a country, to seek asylum abroad and not to be forcibly returned to conditions of danger are internationally recognized rights which North Korea and China, like all other countries, are obliged to respect. This particular case of North Koreans has captured regional and international attention. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has spoken out publicly against the return of the North Koreans and National Assembly woman Park Sun Young has undertaken a hunger strike in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul. The Parliamentary Forum for Democracy encompassing 18 countries has urged its members to raise the matter with their governments. The case, however, is situated at the tip of the iceberg. According to the State Department’s Human Rights Report (2010), there may be thousands or tens
March 05, 2012
Please see the video gallery for a live recording of this hearing.  Good afternoon, Chairman Smith, Cochairman Brown, and members of the Commission. On behalf of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, thank you for inviting me to speak with you at this hearing today. Our Committee considers it essential to draw attention to the case of 30 to 40 North Koreans who have been arrested by China and who now risk being forcibly returned to North Korea where they most assuredly will be subjected to severe punishment in violation of international refugee and human rights law. The fundamental right to leave a country, to seek asylum abroad and not to be forcibly returned to conditions of danger are internationally recognized rights which China and North Korea must be obliged to respect.  Mr. Chair, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea is a Washington DC-based non-governmental organization, established in 2001. Our Committee’s main statement has been prepared by Chair Roberta Cohen, who was unable to be here today. I will draw upon that statement in my opening remarks.   Over the past two decades, considerable numbers of North Koreans have risked their lives to cross the border into China. They have done so because of starvation, economic deprivation or political persecution. It is estimated that there are thousands or tens of thousands in China today. Most are vulnerable to forced returns where they will face persecution and punishment because leaving North Korea without permission is a criminal offense. Yet to China, all North Koreans are economic migrants, and over the years, it has forcibly returned tens of thousands to conditions of danger. According to the testimonies and reports received by the Committee for Human Rights, the North Koreans returned to their country endure cruel and inhuman punishment including beatings, torture, detention, forced labor, sexual viole
September 20, 2011
Please see the video gallery for a live recording of the hearing.  Good afternoon, Chairman Smith, Mr. Payne, and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today about the human rights situation in North Korea, as that country prepares for a second hereditary transmission of top leadership, and about the apparent increase in the amount of information getting into North Korea. It is an honor and privilege to have an opportunity to discuss these issues with you today. After North Korean leader Kim Jong-il allegedly suffered a stroke in the summer of 2008, the Kim regime proceeded with preparations for third generation succession. In September 2010, one day ahead of a rare Workers’ Party of Korea conference in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-il’s third son, Kim Jong-un, was made a daejang, the equivalent to an American Four-Star General. Kim Jongun’s selection as one of the two Vice-Chairmen of North Korea’s National Defense Commission and the Workers’ Party Central Military Commission  appears to confirm that he has been designated to succeed Kim Jong-il as leader of North Korea. According to experts, should Kim Jong-un become North Korea’s leader, it is likely that Kim Jong-un’s uncle Chang Sung-taek will a
June 02, 2011
I thank the Committee for its invitation to testify on the implementation of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, re-authorized in 2008. I represent, as Executive Director, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a bi-partisan, Washington-based research and advocacy organization devoted to the advancement of the human rights of the people of North Korea. I should add that my views in all likelihood do not reflect the views of every member of the Board. I speak here today as an individual who has spent many years working on this issue, including service here in the House of Representatives over ten years ago as the senior defense and foreign policy advisor of the Policy Committee, during which time I worked with this Committee on a number of matters relating to North Korea. This included the DoD Authorization Act which established the role of North Korea Policy coordinator in 1998, the report of the Speaker‟s Special Advisory Group on North Korea in 1999 (available at: http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/dprk/nkag-report.htm), and the first steps that were taken toward the enactment of the North Korean Human Rights Act which became law in 2004. I know from first-hand experience the deep interest and profound dedication of members and staff of this Committee, on North Korean human rights issues, and applaud your consistent efforts to protect the people of North Korea from the human rights abuses afflicted on them by their own regime. In 2009, our co-chair the late Stephen J. Solarz, a distinguished former member of Congress and chairman of an important Subcommittee of this Committee, convened a group of human rights specialists in Washington to discuss priorities for addressing the human rights crisis in North Korea. Under his leadership, we developed a set of ten policy recommendations, a key one of which was to enhance the implementation of the North Korea Human Rights Act. We recommended that the administration establish a specific office with the res
June 02, 2011
Committee on Foreign Affairs U. S. House of Representatives 112th Congress Chuck Downs:  Thank you, Madam Chairman. It is a great pleasure for me to be here today. As some of you may recall, I spent a few years working on Capitol Hill for the Policy Committee. I have the greatest respect for this particular committee and everything you have done for North Korea. I appear before you today as the executive director of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and my statement goes through a number of issues relating to North Korea, all of which you are familiar with. But you have asked me to focus on the North Korean Human Rights Act today, which this committee sponsored in 2004, and Madam Chairwoman, you reauthorized as recently as 2008. It is a great piece of legislation, one that stands as a hallmark of the American people’s interest in the human rights of the people of North Korea. You are to be commented for that incredible achievement, and it gives us a roadmap from which we can look at a number of issues relating to North Korean human rights. Bob King, whose excellent appearance today, his fine testimony, and his recent trip to North Korea, is a living example of how wise it was to create a position of Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights. My organization had the pleasure of having as its distinguished co-chair for many years the late Congressman Stephen Solarz. I actually remember helping people prepare for testimony before Congressman Solarz when he was the chairman of one of your subcommittees. His death is a great loss, as is that of former Congressman Lantos, he is with us in spirit today. Two thousand and four was an extremely interesting year for human rights in North Korea. You will all immediately think that that was the year that the North Korean Human Rights Act was passed. I believe it was passed on July 21st of 2004. The same year, a former U.S. military defector, Charles Jenkins, managed to put

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. 

North Korea's Camp No. 25
HRNK & DigitalGlobe, Inc.
Feb 25, 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:

North Korea's Camp No. 22 - Update
HRNK & DigitalGlobe, Inc.
Dec 11, 2012

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

North Korea's Camp No. 22
HRNK & DigitalGlobe, Inc.
Oct 24, 2012

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.

The Hidden Gulag Second Edition
David Hawk
Apr 10, 2012

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!
Yoshi Yamamoto
Nov 30, 2011

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 after Kim Jong-il: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?
Kim Kwang Jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
Dec 31, 1969

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

After Kim Jong II: Can We Hope for Better Human Rights Protection?
Kim Kwang Jin, HRNK Non-Resident Fellow
Dec 31, 1969

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

Legal Strategies for Protecting Human Rights in North Korea
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Dec 31, 1969

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

The North Korean Refugee Crisis: Human Rights and International Response
Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland
Dec 31, 1969

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,