North Korean defectors defy Pyongyang through writing

About 30 North Korean defectors are working to shed light on the communist state’s human rights situation through literature, seeking to prove that the pen can indeed be mightier than the sword.

According to a report by South Korean news agency Yonhap, the group is known as the North Korean Writers in Exile PEN Center. It has been part of PEN International, an association of writers promoting literature and freedom of expression since 2012.

The center is led by North Korean defector Lee Gie Myung, who wrote plays in the republic for 20 years before escaping to South Korea in 2004. He began writing for the group in 2008, working with other “defector-writers” to tell the world about the difficulties faced by North Koreans under the three-generation rule of the Kim family.

Following calls for the UN Security Council to refer North Korea’s “crimes against humanity” to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the defector-writers tried to assist by compiling testimonies of 20 individuals who had defected over Pyongyang’s abuse of rights. They also backed the request for ICC to look into the crimes of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“It is meaningful that defector-writers have begun to gain recognition,” Gie Myung told Yonhap. “They are the ones who can speak up against North Korea’s abject human rights situation in their own voices. … North Koreans will awaken and rise up if they get access to outside information.”

[Free Malaysia Today]

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