Saturday, July 26, 2008

North Korea, the most avoidable human rights crisis

Hardship with no exposure to the outside world is how an ex-military officer described life in North Korea. Kim Seung-Min, now the director of Free North Korea Radio, also told of how escaping from North Korea did not necessarily mean escaping to freedom.

Kim was caught in China and repatriated to face death by hanging. He then escaped again, he said, only to return to China to be exploited as an underpaid laborer. "I was one of the lucky ones," he said through a translator.

"China hunts them down and puts them in jail," said Suzanne Scholte of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, a Fairfax, Virginia-based group of 60 organizations concerned with human rights in North Korea.

"This is the most avoidable human rights crisis we're facing right now," Scholte said.

It is estimated that between 100,000 and 400,000 people have fled North Korea in recent years, according to a recent study by law firm DLA Piper and the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, a Washington-based NGO.

[International Herald Tribune]

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