An image taken by Roman Harak displaying “luxury items” for sale three days before the North Korean National Day.
By Abraham Reiss, HRNK Research Intern
Edited by Michelle Dang, HRNK Research Intern, and Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Editor
October 4, 2021
Since North Korea’s jangmadang market system first emerged during the “Arduous March” of the 1990s, it has become a central pillar of life in the country and has brought about drastic changes to life under the regime. In addition to introducing commercial trade and economic opportunities, molding new roles for women, and connecting the population to an information distribution network, these markets have begun to turn many young North Koreans away from their government’s propaganda. However, while the new perspectives of the “Jangmadang Generation” create hope for change, immense hurdles remain as North Koreans face a deteriorating situation headlined by food shortages and worsening human rights denial under the repressive control, coercion, and surveillance of the state.
By Eric Ryu, HRNK Research Intern
Edited by Sophia Hapin, HRNK Research Intern, and Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Editor
August 10, 2021
The North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 intends to protect human rights and freedom in North Korea, including the promotion of humanitarian or legal assistance to North Koreans escapees. Granting North Korean refugees  the opportunity to come to the United States was an important factor in adopting the act. However, since the United States formally began accepting North Korean refugees in 2006, the annual number has continuously been decreasing with a total of only 220 refugees resettled in the United States.  In fiscal year 2020 alone, the United States only accepted two refugees.  There are many factors that have contributed to the decline in the number of North Korean refugees to the United States. North Korean escapees will generally choose to resettle in South Korea as the country had accepted a total of 33,752 refugees as of January 27, ,  but the process of resettling in the United States is much more time-consuming than in South Korea and navigating through the United States immigration system is very complex. Therefore, it is important to identify and understand why the number has decreased significantly, so the United States can address these concerns to facilitate North Korean refugee resettlement in the United States.
By Seshni Moodley, HRNK Research Intern
Edited by Carter Thompson, HRNK Research Intern, and Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Editor
August 5, 2021
Women’s rights violations are a global issue. Women are continuously disadvantaged in many spheres of everyday life. There are various social, political and cultural constraints that hamper the promotion of women’s rights in North Korea.
Amongst the various barriers that are hampering the promotion of gender equality in North Korea, the most prominent are the laws of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as these laws enforce the idea that women play an inferior role in society.
By Michelle Dang, HRNK Research Intern
Edited by Eric Ryu, HRNK Research Intern and Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs
August 3, 2021
As the Biden administration has recently affirmed its commitment to fostering a well-grounded U.S. policy toward North Korea, it is critical to revisit the role of the Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea and push for the speedy reinstatement of this senior official. Denuclearization will continue to take center stage in the Korean peninsula’s peace process. However, human rights concerns in North Korea will have to be equally addressed if North Korean reintegration into the international community is to be expected. The reappointment of this Special Envoy would highlight the urgency of revitalizing human rights discourses and implementing effective enforcement of existing recommendations and policies.
By Carter Thompson, HRNK Research Intern
Edited by Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Sophia Hapin, HRNK Research Intern
May 6, 2021
North Korea and the Kim regime are synonymous with nuclear weapons proliferation and isolationism. However, there is much more occurring that fails to reach the mainstream media when it comes to North Korea. While the regime’s nuclear priorities fill the news, a much darker truth continues unencumbered—crimes against humanity. North Korea runs merciless political prison camps in which arbitrarily imprisoned individuals are forced to endure brutal crimes, including torture, starvation, forced abortions, and enslavement. Justice Michael Kirby, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stated that the crimes being committed in these camps rival those committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. How then, is nothing being done? Perhaps it is the Kim regime’s nuclear capabilities or the protection of Russia and China’s veto power on the United Nations Security Council shielding North Korea. Maybe the complicated legal framework of sovereignty and intervening in a state’s affairs erects an additional barrier. Undoubtedly, all of these factors play a role. However, is it possible that there is another contributing factor, something grimmer, something that is not being asked in the highest levels of academia and international governing bodies regarding passivity—do we just not care enough?
HRNK staff members and interns wish to dedicate this program to our colleague Katty Chi. A native of Chile and graduate of the London School of Economics, Katty became a North Korean human rights defender in her early 20s. Katty was chief of international affairs with the North Korea Strategy Center (NKSC) in Seoul from 2010 to 2014 and worked with the Seoul Office of Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) from 2019 to 2020. A remarkable member of our small North Korean human rights community, Katty brought inspiration and good humor to all. Katty passed away in Seoul in May 2020, at the young age of 32. She is survived by her parents and brother living in Chile. With the YPWP series, we endeavor to honor Katty’s life and work.