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[Newsletter Vol. 17] “North Korean Human Rights Issue Should Never Be Overlooked amid Security Concerns” 2017-05-23
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“North Korean Human Rights Issue Should Never Be Overlooked 
amid Security Concerns”
International Experts Raise Voices in Unison at Jeju Forum

International experts who take issue with the human rights situation in North Korea will raise their voices 
again at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity calling for an improvement in the situation in the North. 
The North Korean human rights session opens at 4:40 p.m. on June 1 under the theme, “Why They Suffer: A 
Reality Report on North Korea’s Human Rights” at the Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity 2017.

The session will be participated in by Michael KIRBY, former chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry on 
DPRK who led the “historic” inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea; OH Joon, former ambassador 
of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations; Anna FIFIELD, Tokyo Bureau chief of The Washington Post; 
LEE Hyeon-seo, activist for North Korean human rights; LEE Jung-hoon, ambassador-at-large on North 
Korean human rights; CHUN Hae-Sung, chairman of South-North Korea Exchanges and Cooperation 
Support Association; and Sokeel PARK, director of research and strategy at Liberty in North Korea.

Michael KIRBY will deliver a keynote speech at the session, moderated by former Ambassador OH Joon, 
which will be followed by a panelist discussion, and questions and answers with the audience. The 
participants will call for attention to the human rights conditions of North Korea and explore ways to 
improve them. 

In an email to the Secretariat of the Jeju Forum, KIRBY said, “There is a risk that, at the present time of 
anxiety over nuclear and other weapons, attention will be exclusively focused on security concerns.” He also 
emphasized, “But there will be no real security or peace without justice and universal human rights for the 
people of the entire Korean Peninsula, particularly DPRK. By definition, crimes against humanity are those 
violent offences against human rights that shock the conscience of the international community and 
demand accountability.”  

A former justice of the High Court of Australia, KIRBY was appointed as chairman of the UN Commission of 
Inquiry on DPRK in March 2013 and released the reportage on the human rights conditions in North Korea 
in December, 2013. He has called for more efforts by South Korea for the improvement of human rights in 
North Korea. 

Former Ambassador OH Joon is the diplomat who urged global society to pay attention to the human rights 
issue of North Korea, saying, “For South Koreans, the people in North Korea are not just any bodies,” at the 
first meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the human rights issues in North Korea in 2014. 
Right after the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2270 for sanctions against North Korea in 
March 2016, OH drew the attention of the world with his famous remark, “Geuman haseyo” (Please, stop 
it), in Korean during his English speech at the UN. He is now serving as a professor at the Graduate Institute 
of Peace Studies, Kyunghee University. 

Anna FIFIELD brought international attention with her secret live broadcast of the seventh assembly of the 
North Korean Workers’ Party in May, 2016 via her Facebook account when she visited Pyongyang. She once 
served as the correspondent of The Financial Times in Seoul, and has covered news about the Korean 
peninsula and Japan. 

LEE Hyeonseo defected to South Korea in 2008 after fleeing from the North at the age of 17 in 1997 and 
hiding in China for 10 years. He is engaging in activities to improve the human rights in North Korea by 
contributing to The New York Times, giving lectures at TED and publishing his autobiography. 

LEE Junghoon, who was appointed as ambassador-at-large on North Korean human rights under the Law 
on Human Rights in North Korea enacted in September, 2016, is staging an international campaign to urge 
the world to pay more attention to the issue. He led the organization of the Sages Group of Eight, an 
advisory group on North Korean human rights, jointly with Michael KIRBY.

CHUN Hae-Sung is an expert in negotiations with the North, who attended the Inter-Korean Ministerial 
Talks 12 times, while serving as spokesman of the Ministry of Unification, director general for unification 
policy at the ministry and head of the Inter-Korean Dialogue Office. 

Sokeel Park, a Korean-Briton, is engaged in the rescue of North Korean defectors, helping them settle in 
South Korea and other countries. LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) is a North Korean human rights group, 
founded by second-generation Korean-Americans at Yale University in 2004, to publicize the human rights 
issue worldwide.