11:33 AM, Feb 18, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the release of a United Nations’s Commission on Inquiry’s report on human rights in North Korea. The U.N. report laid out, in devastating detail, what we’ve known for all too long: Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship is the Westboro Baptist Church of regimes – almost comically evil. The regime’s “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights,” the report found, “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.” And while 25,000 North Koreans have escaped to South Korea, and perhaps 200,000 North Koreans are in hiding in China, some 25 million North Koreans continue to suffer in silence, unable to communicate to the outside world because of their enslavement at the hands of their government.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the U.N. report – which, sadly, has yet to have a discernable effect on life in North Korea – the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, in Washington, D.C., convened a panel discussion with three defectors. The tales that the three former North Koreans – Hyun-ah Ji, Praise Joo, and Johan Kim – told were predictably grim, involving torture, hunger, and fierce repression. But the panelists also struck a positive tone, noting that the world is paying attention to North Korea’s abuses (they have been traveling the states for weeks, telling their stories), and trumpeting the success of initiatives like balloon launches into North Korea (which one panelist said the North Korean regime hates the most), and broadcasting free media into the country. One panelist even praised The Interview.
That these courageous refugees are devoting their life to talking about North Korea shows, in a tragic way, that they are in some sense still psychological prisoners of the regime – they cannot escape. But the world -- and their fellow countrymen -- benefit from their bravery. For these defectors speak for the 25 million North Koreans who cannot.
Meet Kim Yong-chol, the man who keeps the secrets.10:07 AM, Feb 4, 2015 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
If Pyongyang has an equivalent to the late Richard Helms, the Nixon era director of central intelligence who kept the secrets on Vietnam and Iran, that would be Kim Yong-chol, a four-star general and Kim Jong-un confidante. Kim, a former bodyguard of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, is now the director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB).
10:41 AM, Jan 28, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, will visit Moscow in May.
"North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, plans to visit Moscow this May in his first trip abroad since assuming power in 2011, a Kremlin spokesman announced on Wednesday," the New York Times reports.
4:40 PM, Dec 17, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
It’s difficult to tell whether the North Korean regime has anything to with the hack attack on Sony Pictures, or the subsequent terrorist threats against movie theaters planning to screen The Interview. The forthcoming Sony film centers around an assassination plot against North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
8:16 AM, Jan 7, 2014 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s self-proclaimed “friend for life” Dennis Rodman announced January 4 that he had assembled the promised team of former NBA players to take to Pyongyang.
7:26 AM, Dec 17, 2013 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
Woody Allen once famously said "90 percent of life is just showing up." In the Kim family's North Korea showing up—or suddenly not—can be a true matter of life or death.
End of the road for Beijing’s Man in Pyongyang.Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15 • By DENNIS P. HALPIN
The spectacle of North Korea’s former number two, Jang Song-thaek, being stripped of all his titles at a December 8 party meeting in Pyongyang and then arrested by uniformed guards left no doubt about his fall from grace. Jang’s former protégé, Premier Pak Pong-ju, was in tears as he denounced his old friend while he was being dragged away. Such a public display of political disarray, broadcast the next day on state television, was unprecedented in the North Korean hermit kingdom.
Nov 11, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 09 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
It's no secret that the value of an honorary degree—not to mention the value of an actual degree—has declined in recent years. Recently minted “Doctors” include Ben Affleck (Brown University), Jon Bon Jovi (Monmouth University), and Morgan Freeman (Boston University). Tufts University, meanwhile, gave one to Lance Armstrong in 2006 . . . only to rescind it last year after the cyclist copped to doping.
How the Kim dynasty preserves its power. Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By GORDON G. CHANG
Steam venting from the complex that houses the Soviet-era reactor in Yongbyon, spotted in satellite imagery taken at the end of August and released last month, tells us that the rogue regime of Kim Jong-un is about to go back into the business of producing plutonium. Weapons specialists and arms-control advocates uniformly expressed concern in the days following the unwelcome news, but followers of Bruce Bechtol know that Pyongyang’s program for enriching uranium is far more consequential than its small-scale plutonium efforts.
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