North Korea Human Rights, 4 Years After the UN Inquiry
By Benedict Rogers
To most people, North Korea is a mystery. Nuclear weapons, seemingly mad dictators with crazy hairstyles, soldiers marching lock-step, and brainwashed citizens applauding in an automated way — these are the popular images. A new report released today – Movies, Markets and Mass Surveillance: Human Rights in North Korea After a Decade of Change – suggests that the situation in what has become known as the Hermit Kingdom is more complex than that.
President Donald Trump’s decision to invite an extraordinary North Korean escapee to his 2018 State of the Union address and to meet with North Koreans privately is very welcome. If the United States puts human rights in North Korea at the top of its agenda, it could make a significant difference. The West should have been doing this already, but better late than never. Failure to do so has allowed fellow travelers to imply amoral equivalence between the United States and North Korea as they have played poker with nuclear weapons. How quickly we forget what helped to pull away the bottom layer of bricks in the Soviet edifice.
Just over ten years ago, the human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) published a ground-breaking report, North Korea: A Case to Answer, A Call to Act. One of the first human rights reports to conclude that the North Korean regime is committing crimes against humanity, it was also one of the first to call on the United Nations to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate. For several years, many people ridiculed us. They said the UN would never do this. They said we were banging our heads against a brick wall. We said if enough of us bang our heads for long enough, we might dislodge some bricks.