Posts Tagged ‘Yodok’


We reproduce a piece written by Fiona Bruce MP on the subject of violence against women and the denial of human rights in North Korea [DPRK]

As we mark International Women’s Day, I am minded to reflect upon the recent conference in the House of Commons hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, of which I am Co-Chair.  Titled Addressing Violence against Women and Girls in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the conference looked to a forgotten corner of Asia and a forgotten group of people: North Korea’s women and girls.

Notorious for its diplomatic belligerence, its disregard for international law and its nuclear programme, the DPRK (or North Korea) successfully concealed its widespread human rights violations from the world for decades.  An era of silence ended in 2014 when a United Nations Commission of Inquiry reported:

The gravity, scale and nature of [North Korea’s human rights] violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.

The severity of this UN statement is worth repeating: North Korea’s human rights situation has no parallel in the contemporary world.

Violence against women

As the international community slowly awakened from its slumber, it was no longer farfetched to recognise North Korea as the largest concentration camp the world had ever known or to rank the horrors of Yodok, Hoeryong, and Pukch’ang alongside Auschwitz, Belsen, and Dachau.  It became a fact that North Korean women have and continue to experience sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault and harassment in public and private spheres of life; human trafficking; forced abortions; slavery; sexual exploitation; psychological violence; religious and gender discrimination; and institutional and economic violence.

This violence in North Korea is neither occasional nor confined to certain quarters — it is endemic; it is state sanctioned; and it is perpetrated against women precisely because they are women.  In every sense of the term, North Korea’s abuses are ‘gendered’.

Why has the international community been silent on this issue?  We can look to many factors, but first and foremost is the discourse that surrounds North Korea.  Dominated by talk of nuclear weapons, regional security, engagement, unification, and humanitarian aid, there has been little room for North Korean women.  And, if truth be told, advocates have simply not been loud enough on this issue.

This year’s International Women’s Day marks an important phase for women’s rights.  Just months after the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women, and fifteen years since the pioneering UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, this is the year that the world is developing the Agenda for Sustainable Development looking to 2030.  The Sustainable Development Goals include a stand-alone goal to achieve gender equality and empowerment for women and girls.

North Korea’s female population should not be forgotten on March 8th.  Gendered violence and discrimination are destroying lives and ruining families in North Korea.  Women are enduring unimaginable suffering and the UK must use what engagement it has with the DPRK to push for real change.  The APPG’s conference on VAWG in North Korea brought together North Korean victims, exiled DPRK Government officials and experts on gender and the rights of women and girls.  Women’s and girls’ human rights is an area in which the UK exhibits international leadership. Let us draw from our knowledge and set out to challenge gendered violence in the DPRK just as we do in so many other countries in the world.

Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, is Co-Chair of the APPG on North Korea jointly with Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP and Lord Alton of Liverpool.


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Group welcomes speaker on #Korea.  On Thursday 13 November, the group was pleased to welcome a Korean speaker as part of our activities to keep the problems in North Korea in the limelight.  Bona Shin is a member of a large community of Koreans who live in London, the largest such community in Europe.  There are thought to be around 32,000 living in the UK and 691 of whom from North Korea.

Bona Shin

Bona Shin

Other speakers have mentioned the difference between Pyongyang and the rest of the country.  People who live in Pyongyang are the elite and they are reasonably well fed by North Korean standards.  It is the rural areas which are impoverished and where people struggle to survive.  She said there are no disabled people in the capital either: they are all moved out to the rural areas.

She mentioned the propaganda initiative recently where the North Korean embassy hosted an art exhibition.  Developments in the last week or so at the UN where there are attempts to get the regime and Kim Jong un indicted for crimes against humanity.

There are reports of the infamous Yodok camp being closed and prisoners being moved to Camp 14 or Camp 16 as part of the propaganda by the North but this cannot be confirmed at the time of writing.  Bilateral talks may begin with the EU on the question of human rights.

There are still survivors from the Korean war which Britain contributed large troop numbers second only to the USA.  There is a British Korean Veteran Association

North Korea event

Posted: April 16, 2014 in Group news, North Korea
Tags: , ,

Amnesty logo

Amnesty logo

The group ran a short event in the Library passage on Tuesday 15 April 2014 to ‘celebrate’ the birthday of Kim Jong-un of North Korea.  Not really a celebration of course but to highlight the terrible situation in the camps in that country.  People are sent to them for the slightest reason and sometimes they might not know the reason.  If a member of their family is arrested, then other family members can be arrested without knowing why.

The worst of the camps are in effect a death sentence.  Some do escape but the usual route is via China who often sends them back as they do not wish to upset the status quo.

The Salisbury group wanted to highlight the situation in the camps and asked people to sign a petition which achieved 128 signatures.  There is a brief item and a photo in the Salisbury Journal – see the link below.  Thanks to Karen for leading on this. We were joined by two members of the Ringwood group and we are grateful for their help and support.

North Korea pops up in the news occasionally and a few weeks ago there was some shelling of an island in the south.  There was a story that all men in the north must have the same haircut as Kim Jong-un the current leader.  This is probably a rumour although it does appear all male students have to have one.  In any event, a hairdresser in London put up a poster with a photo of Kim Jong-un as part of a promotion campaign only to receive a visit from two sinister men from the North Korean Embassy asking them to take the picture down.  This made it onto the BBC’s Radio 4 PM programme with a rather bemused proprietor of the salon being interviewed about the visit.

Of course this is to our eyes ludicrous but it does reveal the intense paranoia and sensitivity of the country and its leader to criticism.   Many people when asked to sign a petition say it probably isn’t worth it as nothing would ever make a difference.  This suggests it might not be a total waste of time.

The Guardian newspaper is commendably taking a wider interest in the affairs of North Korea and has supplied some useful links to sites providing further information about this secretive country.

North Korea News

Peterson Institute

Choson Exchange

 

Group members at the North Korean signing

Group members at the North Korean signing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salisbury Journal