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HRNK Announcements
October 30, 2015








Can North Korea's Kim family leader-based system survive another five years?


WASHINGTON, October 30, 2015—North Korea’s hardline regime may not be on the brink of collapse, but its fate will remain uncertain, with the possibility of collapse ever present, according to a 350-page report released today by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a nonprofit organization.

Stephan Haggard, Krause Distinguished Professor at the Graduate School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California San Diego, said: "Ken Gause looks more closely at the North Korean leadership than anyone. North Korean House of Cards is far and away the most comprehensive analysis of the North Korean succession that we have to date."

Andrew Natsios, HRNK Co-Chair Emeritus, former USAID Administrator and Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the The Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M, noted: "North Korean House of Cards is the most comprehensive and definitive analysis of the intrigue and instability inside the North Korean regime. Gause has done a great service to human rights advocates, policy makers and North Korea watchers in amassing enough evidence to draw a picture of Kim Jong Un's uncertain hold on political power, which could lead to dangerous consequences if the regime begins to unravel."

“If you want to know who is who in the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime, read North Korean House of Cards,” said Professor David Maxwell, Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, and a member of the Board of Directors at HRNK.

Patrick M. Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Program at the Center for a New American Security, underlined that “Ken Gause's surgical dissection of North Korean elites and decision-making is a triumph of painstaking research and keen analytical judgment. Kim Jong-un has consolidated power to preserve a totalitarian system of governance. After detailing Kim's systematic dismantling of a regent system designed to smoothen his transition, including the purge of uncle Jang Song-taek, Gause ends with a profound question: can the Kim family leader-based system survive another five years?”

According to author Ken Gause, “While Kim Jong-un, as the Suryong or the Supreme Leader, is no doubt the ultimate authority in the regime, in order to understand his worldview, one really needs to understand that there are people around him who may provide advice and have some influence on him. Unless you grasp the dynamics between those individuals and the relationships they have with the Supreme Leader, you cannot really understand the Supreme Leader, his worldview, or how decision-making is done inside North Korea.”

North Korean House of Cards: Leadership Dynamics under Kim Jong-un shows that “crimes against humanity and other egregious human rights violations do not happen in a vacuum in North Korea,” said HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu. “They span almost seven decades and are an intrinsic part of the Kim regime’s modus operandi.

North Korean House of Cards significantly contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms, lines of responsibility, and individuals liable for the crimes committed in North Korea. HRNK Co-Chair Emeritus Roberta Cohen pointed out that “understanding the dynamics of a regime that makes crimes against humanity state policy is essential to the international prosecution of the Kim family and those who carry out its orders. Those in the security sector, the prison sector, and other departments directly perpetrating human rights abuses will surely be put on notice by this study.”

In 2014, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry concluded that grave, systematic, and widespread human rights abuses amounting to “crimes against humanity have been committed” in North Korea, “pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state.” The tightly closed, nuclear-armed communist regime rejects such accusations, which it regards as part of a U.S.-led effort to overthrow it.

The report launch will be held from 9:30 to 11:00 am on Friday, October 30, at the National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, 13th Floor Main Level, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20045. Complimentary copies of the book will be provided to all participants. If you plan on attending, send your RSVP to Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs: rosapark@hrnk.org. The publication is also available on HRNK’s website: HRNK.ORG.

HRNK was founded in 2001 as nonprofit research organization dedicated to documenting human rights conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as North Korea is formally known. An estimated 400,000 people are believed to have died in the country’s system of political prison camps, while another 120,000 are imprisoned there now. Visit www.hrnk.org to find more about HRNK and download “North Korean House of Cards” along with previous publications.


Contact: Greg Scarlatoiu, executive.director@hrnk.org; 202-499-7973




Board of Directors

Katrina Lantos Swett (Co-Chair)

President and CEO,

Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice


Gordon Flake (Co-Chair)

Chief Executive Officer, Perth USAsia Centre,

The University of Western Australia

Co-author, Paved with Good Intentions:

The NGO Experience in North Korea


John Despres (Co-Vice-Chair)

Consultant on International Financial & Strategic Affairs


Suzanne Scholte (Co-Vice-Chair)


Defense Forum Foundation

Seoul Peace Prize Laureate


Helen-Louise Hunter (Secretary)


Author, Kim Il-Song’s North Korea


Kevin C. McCann (Treasurer)

General Counsel, StrataScale, Inc.

Counsel, SHI International Corp.


Roberta Cohen (Co-Chair Emeritus)

Non-Resident Senior Fellow,

Brookings Institution

Specializing in Humanitarian and Human Rights Issues


Andrew Natsios (Co-Chair Emeritus)

Former Administrator,

U.S. Agency for International Development


Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs

Executive Professor, The Bush School of Government & Public Service,

Texas A&M University

Author of The Great North Korean Famine


Morton Abramowitz

Senior Fellow,

The Century Foundation


Jerome Cohen

Co-Director, US-Asia Law Institute,

NYU Law School

Adjunct Senior Fellow,

Council on Foreign Relations


Lisa Colacurcio

Advisor, Impact Investments


Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Associate Dean,

Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles


Jack David

Senior Fellow,

Hudson Institute


Paula Dobriansky

Chair, World Affairs Council of America

Adjunct Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,

Kennedy School of Government,

Harvard University

Distinguished National Security Chair,

U.S. Naval Academy


Nicholas Eberstadt

Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy,

American Enterprise Institute

Author of books on North Korea, including North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society


Carl Gershman


National Endowment for Democracy


Stephen Kahng


Kahng Foundation


David Kim


The Asia Foundation


Debra Liang-Fenton

U.S. Institute of Peace

Former Executive Director, HRNK


Winston Lord

Former Assistant Secretary for East Asia,

Department of State

Former Ambassador to China

Director of Policy Planning Staff,

Department of State

Former President,

Council on Foreign Relations

Former Chairman,

National Endowment for Democracy


David Maxwell

Associate Director,

Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program, Georgetown University

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)


Marcus Noland

Executive Vice President and Director of Studies,

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Author of books on North Korea including Avoiding the Apocalypse: the Future of the Two Koreas


Jacqueline Pak


George Washington University


Executive Director

Greg Scarlatoiu

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