Destined to collapse? North Korea’s Parallel Gulag


Is the North Korean regime destined to collapse?

It is possible that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and perhaps even some subjects of his despotic rule, would rather be obliterated than give in, notes Ian Buruma, Editor of The New York Review of Books, and the author of numerous books. It would not be the first time that a quasi-religious movement turned suicidal, he writes for Project Syndicate:

North Korean nationalism, with its cult of self-reliance known as Juche, is as religious as it is political. Defending the Kim dynasty, built up as a symbol of Korean resistance to foreign powers, is a sacred task. And when the sacred takes over politics, compromise becomes almost impossible. People can negotiate over conflicting interests, but not over matters that are considered holy.

What’s it like to defect from North Korea? Daily Intelligencer spoke with five North Korean defectors and refugees to better understand what life is like under the Kim regime, now in its third generation. Most, like both Jo and Kim, escaped out of desperation. Stay and die; leave, and maybe survive.

75% of all escapees in the South are from just two provinces, NK News reports.

Former president Jimmy Carter is wrong to suggest that the United States should be dedicated to the preservation of the North Korean regime, argues Roberta Cohen, a deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights in the Carter administration, and co-chair emeritus of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Despite being known as the human rights president, Mr. Carter omitted how the fundamental rights of the battered and bruised North Korean people should be addressed if talks were held, she writes to The Washington Post:

Assuming that North Koreans are loyal to their leader is questionable, considering the more than 100,000 people in political prison camps, the extreme efforts of Pyongyang to bar its people from accessing outside information and the restrictions placed on leaving the country. A 2005 government directive described “confused elements at home” as “more dangerous than the enemy outside.”


THE PARALLEL GULAG: North Korea’s “An-jeon-bu” Prison Camps

Opening Remarks Victor Cha, Korea Chair, CSIS

Presenters David Hawk, Author Amanda Mortwedt Oh, HRNK

Discussants Roberta Cohen, Co-Chair Emeritus, HRNK Stephen Noerper, Senior Director, Korea Society Moderator: Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director, HRNK


Please email Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs at with any questions or concerns.

Thursday, October 26, 2017 ​9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m. National Press Club ​First Amendment Lounge 529 14th Street, NW  Washington, DC 20045

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