Moon Urges NK To Return Detainees Swiftly

June 20, 2017:  South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday said North Korea should swiftly return South Koreans and Americans detained in the reclusive nation and that Pyongyang had “a heavy responsibility” in the death of a U.S. university student.

“Even today, there are many Korean nationals and American citizens who are detained in North Korea,” Moon said. “I also urge North Korea to return these people to their families.” Continue reading at Reuters.

 

 

Otto Warmbier Got an Extra Dose of Brutality From North Korea. The Mystery Is Why.

June 14, 2017: The news about Mr. Warmbier deepened the anxiety among families of South Koreans and Japanese citizens held in the North. North Korea is accused of kidnapping more than 450 South Koreans, mostly fishermen, and 12 Japanese citizens in the decades after the Korean War.

“This sounded like a warning to us, signaling what might happen to our family members if we spoke out against human rights abuses in the North,” said Hwang In-cheol, whose father was on a South Korean airliner hijacked to the North in 1969.  Continue reading “Otto Warmbier Got an Extra Dose of Brutality From North Korea. The Mystery Is Why.”

Abductees Remain Casualties of Nuclear Stand-off with North Korea

February 8, 2017: In 1969, Hwang In-cheol’s father was among the 47 passengers and crew aboard a Korea Air (KAL) airliner that was hijacked into North Korea. Most were released under intense international pressure, but 11 of them, including Hwang’s father, who was a journalist and outspoken critic of the then Kim Il Sung regime, were not allowed to return nor permitted to communicate with their families.

Continue reading “Abductees Remain Casualties of Nuclear Stand-off with North Korea”

Torn Apart: The Human Rights Dimension of the Involuntary Separation of Korea Families

December 7, 2016: A new report, published today by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), documents the experiences of families who have been separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War through displacement, forced disappearance and abductions, and as a result of those fleeing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The KAL hijacking and Mr. Hwang’s efforts to ensure the crime is not forgotten are mentioned on page 19, paragraph 49:

The story of Mr. Hwang In-chul, whose father was abducted in 1969, along with 50 other passengers and crew members of a Korean Air flight, remains among the best-known cases of proven post-war abductions by the authorities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Whereas 39 victims were returned to the Republic of Korea in 1970, all others remained disappeared, including Mr. Hwang’s father, a medical doctor, media technicians and four crew members.

According to witnesses, Mr. Hwang’s father, a journalist, had strongly resisted his abductors while being “re-educated” to embrace North Korean ideology, which may explain why he was not returned. A sequence of worldwide plane hijackings in the following months motivated a resolution by the Security Council “appeal[ing] to all parties concerned for the immediate release of all passengers and crews without exception.” Mr. Hwang stated that the incident was particularly traumatic for his family and his upbringing because “even if you are a victim, society looks down on you and you are considered a spy.”

Related article.

Signe Poulsen: Enforced Disappearances

August 19, 2016: On Aug. 30, the international community will mark the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearances. This day is an opportunity for people in all parts of the world to reflect and commemorate the missing, to denounce the practice of enforced disappearances, and to advocate for an end to this practice.

Under international law, an enforced disappearance occurs when an individual is arrested, detained, or otherwise deprived of their liberty by government officials or individuals acting on behalf of, or with the support, consent or acquiescence of the government, followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the person. Continue reading at The Korea Times.

UN Requests NK to Release Fate of 14 Abductees Including Former KAL Crew

July 19, 2016: The United Nations has officially called on North Korea to release information on the fate of 14 people held captive in the reclusive country, including a South Korean plane crew kidnapped 47 years ago, a U.S.-based media outlet said Tuesday.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) said the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) also requested the Pyongyang regime confirm whether the five North Korean defectors who were forcibly taken back to North from China and six people who were arrested in North Korea for their anti-state activities are still alive. …

The request comes as a South Korean politician said recently that North Korea is still holding more than 500 South Koreans abducted since the end of the Korean War in 1953, including 11 from a Korean Air Lines (KAL) passenger aircraft. Continue reading at Yonhap News.

After 43 Years Trapped in NK, A Survivor Fights Back

July 5, 2016: Kawasaki Aiko is currently the head of an NGO that helps defectors in their attempt to set up their new lives in Japan. She is also behind a major international effort to conduct an investigation to discover the truth behind the repatriations.

Kawasaki Aiko is extremely busy these days, preoccupied with the task of bringing these issues to the public’s attention. In the process, she has become a nuisance to the North Korean authorities, Chongryon (the pro-Pyongyang federation of Korean residents in Japan), and the Japanese government. That’s because she insists that the repatriations are not some piece of forgotten history that can be easily swept under the rug, but a collection of human rights infractions that continue to this day. Continue reading at Daily NK. 

Peter Daley’s Imjingak Rally Speech

A slightly revised version of the speech follows:

While listening to Mr. Hwang tell the story of his father a few months ago, I was reminded of the plight of the first person I met who had escaped from North Korea.

That person was not a North Korean defector. He was a prisoner of war.  On June 9, 1953, Yoo Young-Bok, a South Korean soldier, was captured by Chinese forces. Continue reading “Peter Daley’s Imjingak Rally Speech”

Human Rights Council: Protect North Koreans

September 18, 2015: … The side event will be at 4 p.m. in room XXI, Palais des Nations, with Michael Kirby; Marzuki Darusman, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea; and Fisher, along with seven persons directly affected by North Korea’s abductions and rights abuses, including Choi Sung Yong; Kim Dong-nam; Banjong Panjoy, the nephew of Thai abductee Anocha Panjoy; Takuya Yokota, the brother of Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota; Eiko Kawasaki, an ethnic Korean Japanese who escaped North Korea; Hwang In-cheol, whose son was abducted after North Korea hijacked Korea Air flight YS-11 and diverted it to Pyongyang; and Tomoharu Ebihara, chair of the Association for the Rescue of North Korea Abductees.

A 2014 report by the UN Commission of Inquiry found that since 1950, the North Korean government has systematically kidnapped nationals from China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Europe, and the Middle East. Pyongyang forced them to stay in North Korea, where the commission found that gross, pervasive, and systemic human rights abuses take place at a scale and gravity without parallel in the contemporary world including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. Continue reading at Human Rights Watch.

International Seminar on Enforced Disappearance: Lessons for Korea

On July 22, 2015: NKHR hosted a seminar on transitional justice efforts to respond to enforced disappearances at the British Embassy in Seoul. The seminar—International Seminar on Enforced Disappearance: Lessons for Korea—featured speakers from Guatemala, Timor Leste, Indonesia, and Laos sharing experiences of enforced disappearance in their countries. Drawing from these experiences, the seminar also sought practical lessons for Korea as it starts to consider transitional justice initiatives…

HR this is great

Many of the audience members were victims themselves or family members of abductees. As the substantive sessions of the seminar came to a close, a few shared their concerns with the panel, as well as their own experiences. In-cheol Hwang, son of Won Hwang who was abducted to North Korea when his Korean Airline flight was abducted by North Korea, raised questions about the practical steps activists and families can take despite the South Korean government’s indifference. Aiko Kawasaki, an ethnically Korean Japanese citizen who was persuaded to move to North Korea after being deceived by the pro-Pyongyang Federation of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), spoke about her difficult life in North Korea and her escape. Continue reading at NKHR.