North Korea

South Korean NGO publishes details of Pyongyang's human rights abusers

South Korean NGO warns Pyongyang of potential day of reckoning when two Koreas unite

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 5:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 3:36am

A non-governmental organisation in South Korea released a booklet on Wednesday containing the personal details of North Korean human rights abusers to warn Pyongyang of a potential day of reckoning when the two Koreas are unified.

In the publication, the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) listed different cases of rights violations in the Stalinist country, such as torture, execution, imprisonment in gulags, and revealed the names of supposed perpetrators, along with their birthdays and affiliations.

Perpetrators of horrible human rights abuses committed in North Korea will be held responsible
Yoon Yeo-sang, NKDB

“Perpetrators of horrible human rights abuses committed in North Korea will be held responsible,” explained Yoon Yeo-sang, a co-founder of NKDB. “North Korean authorities must stop all types of violence and torture.”

The aim of publicising the personal details of human rights violators was to use fear of punishment to discourage North Koreans in powerful positions from engaging in abusive activities, noted South Korean media.

The booklet, the first of its kind made available to the South Korean public, was a compilation of 48 newsletters produced by NKDB in Seoul.

One case of rights violation listed in the report was that of a prisoner named Won Myung-hwa, who was beaten to death in February 2011 after stealing some equipment at Chongori Re-education Camp. The suspected perpetrator Kim Chang-soo, born in October 1978, was a member of North Hamgyong province’s Ministry of People’s Security.

The details of the alleged abusers listed in the booklet came from the testimonies of North Korean defectors, which were later corroborated by NKDB.

Last week, the centre reported that there had been 46,713 cases of human rights violations so far this year in North Korea, up more than 10 per cent compared to the same period last year. The most prevalent form of abuse was rejection of the right to freedom, followed by restriction of movement and right to life.

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Rights in North Korea has also been gathering information from witnesses on the Communist nation’s rights situation since August this year.

“We will also seek to determine whether crimes against humanity have occurred and who bears responsibility among different state institutions and officials,” said Michael Kirby, the chairman of the panel, two months ago.

South Korea’s inspiration for documenting human rights violations of its neighbour might have come from Germany, a country that reunified after decades of separation.

In 1961, West Germany established the central archives in Salzgitter to document rights violations in East Germany. After reunification, files on some 40,000 cases were handed over to law enforcement agencies.