By Christopher Motola, HRNK Research Intern
In our Former Prisoner Testimony section, we highlight notable accounts of people who were previously imprisoned in North Korea’s prisons. Two of the accounts are particularly striking. The stories of Ms. Bang Mi-sun and Ms. Ji Hae-Nam stand out not only because of their horrifying experience in the kyo-hwa-so (prison labor camps), but because of another element that is not usually mentioned when discussing North Korea–China. The North Korean people face countless struggles every single day, yet the source of their hardship is not solely the Kim Regime. The harsh reality is that even immediate escape from North Korea does not mean a relief from the nightmare. Instead, the situation is akin to the expression of going “out of the frying pan and into the fire.”
by Christopher Motola, HRNK Research Intern
Just a few days ago, the North Korean regime denied accusations of human rights abuses by the United Nations. In fact, its spokesperson defended North Korea’s human rights record, stating “North Korea guarantees ‘true freedom and rights’ to its people.” Further, North Korea argued that the accusations lacked legitimacy and were a calculated part of a “political maneuver aimed at overthrowing the regime.” Unfortunately for the North Korean government, the irrefutable evidence of abuse by the Kim regime has been well documented. In particular, human rights investigator David Hawk has worked through HRNK for over a decade to shed light on North Korea’s prison camp system through former prisoner testimony and satellite imagery in the Hidden Gulag series.
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.