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.
Two Birds, One Stone
Photos from the Laogai Museum
(Used with permission from the Laogai Research Foundation.)
All photos by Elizabeth Chu. © Committee for Human Rights in North Korea 2017.
By Elizabeth Chu
During my summer in Washington, DC, I had the opportunity to visit the Laogai Museum on the corner of 18th Street and T Street. It offers a one-of-a-kind exhibition showcasing the history and abuses of China’s vast network of prisons. I was appalled at the similarities of camp conditions between the Chinese laogai and the North Korean political prison camps. Derived from the Soviet gulag system in the 1950s, the political prison camps in North Korea and China were established for the purpose of containing political dissidence against their respective totalitarian governments. Over the last six decades, both systems have grossly perpetuated human rights abuses through the lack of due process, arbitrary detention, re-education, forced starvation and labor, torture, deaths in detention, and execution. The parallel between these two systems is undeniable. However, the North Korean and Chinese prison systems have evolved to possess several distinct characteristics. This article will focus on the implications of these key differences.
HRNK staff members and interns wish to dedicate this program to our colleagues Katty Chi and Miran Song.