North Korea: The human rights and security linkage


n-korea-hidden-revToo often in the past the issue of human rights in the DPRK has been treated as a separate or even a secondary concern to the security situation, notes the Brookings Institution. Of late, the human rights situation in North Korea has received increasing international attention with the release of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report which concluded that “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” and “in many instances the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on State policies.” As DPRK nuclear and missile testing becomes more aggressive and provocative, it is imperative that policymakers and commentators alike consider the link between security and human rights. How do American and other international efforts to press the North to make progress on the human rights of its people relate to U.S. efforts to secure regional stability?

On December 12, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings will host Ambassador Robert King as he discusses this critical nexus between human rights and security in the U.S. approach toward North Korea. Jonathan Pollack, interim SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies, will provide remarks after the presentation, followed by a Q&A moderated by Richard Bush, director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies. RSVP



Promoting democracy and access to information in North Korea is in both the strategic and humanitarian interests of the United States, according to the Heritage Foundation:

  • There are three main ways to access outside information in North Korea: radio; electronic devices like USB drives, DVDs, CDs; and cell phones. Emerging technology presents opportunities to disseminate information in new ways that may improve information access in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
  • Access to information is a major factor in whether North Koreans decide to defect and seek freedom abroad.
  • As demonstrated by the U.S. and its West German allies’ efforts during the Cold War, technology and media can play a crucial role in undermining totalitarian regimes.
  • The U.S. must incorporate new technology into its existing strategy to promote information access in North Korea.

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