In the past year, the number of North Korean defectors has declined
by approximately 17% with even
fewer making it to South Korea. This is largely due to the increase
in security monitoring on the Chinese border and an increase
in police patrols in some of North Korea’s metropolitan cities. As it stands,
the majority of defecting refugees escape from the North Eastern provinces
(roughly 80%) as these are less militarized and provide easier access into
The repatriation policy of the Chinese government owes to the fact that
defectors are considered “illegal economic migrants.” Given that the
preservation of this relationship takes precedence over the rights, protections
and freedom of North Korean refugees it is incumbent on the U.S. and the
extended international community to respond to this crisis in an appropriate
way. China, itself negligible when it comes to human rights, won’t change its
There are however many not-for-profit organizations based in South Korea
that actively promote the rights and freedoms of North Korean defectors which
is cause for hope.
On the international stage, U.S. President Donald Trump has met with Kim
Jong Un in relation to denuclearisation and the lifting of economic sanctions.
These meetings have also included a brief focus on human rights. There remains
an opportunity for U.S. foreign policy makers to instigate change in relation
to the situation by way of incorporating human rights dialogue into the talks
and future relationship of the U.S. and North Korea.
In July 2018, The
North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2017
outrightly condemned the treatment of North Korean citizens by the oppressive
regime and called upon the regime to respect the rights of its citizens. On top
of this, it also supported the allocation of funds to support a special envoy
on North Korean human rights at an international level. As a result, the
meetings between Kim and Trump have followed on from this renewed legislation
which ought to give the international community cause for more hope. While
denuclearisation is important, human rights dialogue must factor into the North
[The Organization for World Peace]
Kim Hyok Chol – North Korea’s top nuclear envoy who was reportedly executed is actually alive and in state custody, CNN reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Kim Hyok Chol, who led working-level negotiations for the February summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and leader Kim Jong Un, is being investigated for his role in the failure to reach a deal, CNN reported Tuesday. A conservative South Korean daily, Chosun Ilbo, sparked global intrigue over the fate of Kim Hyok Chol when it reported Friday he had been executed by firing squad after being charged with espionage as part of an internal purge.
A career diplomat from an elite North Korean family, Kim Hyok Chol made his
international debut a few weeks before the Hanoi summit as Pyongyang’s new
point man for nuclear negotiations, taking diplomats by surprise. As to his
personal “failure” in the summit, South Korea’s former top envoy to
international nuclear talks with North Korea commented, “I cannot imagine that
Kim Hyok Chol misinterpreted the U.S. position and misled his bosses into
believing that sanctions relief is possible. He is not senior enough to make
such a judgment.”
Kim Yong Chol – Recently, another key player Kim Yong Chol appeared in public attending an art performance alongside Kim Jong Un. An invitation to join to join the North Korean leader in public would likely not be extended to someone who had fallen out of favor. However, sources said Kim Yong Chol had seen power “almost deprived” since the Hanoi summit. The sources add Kim, who previously served as North Korea’s spy chief, was not sentenced to forced labor, but instead “kept silently in his office writing statements of self-criticism.” Trotting him out publicly was a signal to Washington that Kim Jong Un was “not breaking off negotiations over denuclearization,” despite escalating tensions in recent weeks, one source said.
Sin Hye Yong – Kim Jong Un’s translator at the failed Hanoi talks, Sin Hye Yong, also is in custody and under investigation, sources said.
The above North Korean officials join other senior North Korean officials who South Korean media over the years has reported they had been executed, only to have proven false.
Diplomats and officials from Pyongyang have been known to disappear from
public view only to resurface after a period of so-called reeducation, analysts
and former diplomats say.
[CNN / Bloomberg]
North Korea has issued its latest demand that the U.S. work harder to find
common ground on sanctions relief and denuclearization, warning leaders in
Washington that patience in Kim Jong Un’s regime is wearing thin.
A statement issued Tuesday by the North Korean foreign ministry said the U.S. must abandon its “current way of calculation” if it wished to revive talks between the two nations. The statement was carried by the Rodong Sinmun newspaper—the official publication of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. It said an adjustment to America’s approach would be the “correct strategic choice” to keep alive the joint statement signed by Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018, in which both committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The message—attributed to a ministry spokesperson—said the survival of the
agreement depends on how America responds to “our fair and reasonable
stand.” If the response is inadequate, the spokesperson said the Singapore
statement would become “a mere blank sheet of paper.”
“The U.S. should duly look back on the past one year and cogitate about
which will be a correct strategic choice before it is too late,” the
official continued. “The U.S. would be well-advised to change its current
method of calculation and respond to our request as soon as possible. There is
a limit to our patience.”
While attending North Korea’s Mass games, leader Kim Jong-un openly criticized his country’s “irresponsible work attitude”.
Apart from this, in attendance at the opening of the games was Mr Kim’s sister, who had not been seen publicly in nearly two months.
Kim Yo-jong has over the past two years become an close aide to her brother and was part of his diplomatic mission during the two US-North Korea summits in Singapore and Hanoi. She has been absent from the public eye before, but her recent absence was by some observers linked to the failure of the negotiations with the US. Reports suggested that Kim had ordered his sister to keep a low profile after the failure of his recent nuclear summit with Donald Trump.
There were reports last week that several of North Korea’s top officials had been purged or possibly even executed after the Hanoi summit. One of them has since reappeared in photos alongside Mr Kim, while the other’s fate remains unclear.
With none of the reports verifiable, analysts have to read official photos and seating patterns for clues as to who might have fallen out of favor. For example, some suggest Kim Yo-jong appears to no longer be member of the Politburo, as some official photos show her too far from Kim Jong-un to still be part of that powerful body.
Kim was also accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol-ju, along with senior North Korean officials.
A group of North Korean defectors, Fighters for Free North Korea, a South Korea-based group of activists, recently had a confrontation at the North Korean Embassy in London.
The group initially requested to be let in to deliver a message to the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Embassy staff did not issue a response or make an appearance, according to the activists.
When no one showed up, the activists began to paste dozens of anti-North Korea flyers to the embassy gate. Lastly, they tossed the 500 remaining flyers across the gate, according to Yonhap.
The flyers included condemnations of Kim as the “demon who killed his brother,” and read, “Kim Jong Un, butcher of humanity,” in Korean.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US is looking into a report that
North Korea executed a top envoy after the summit between North Korean Leader
Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump collapsed.
According to the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, Kim Hyok Chol, North Korea’s special envoy to the US, was executed after the summit ended early. The report said he was executed in March for “being recruited by US imperialists and betraying the supreme leader.”
Chosun Ilbo reported that the execution was part of a purge of top officials that saw four other officials executed.
It reported that a senior official was part of Kim’s team for both of his
summits with Trump was sentenced to hard labor and ideological
“re-education.” The official, Kim Yong Chol, met Trump at the
White House in 2018 and was photographed with him.
It also reported that an interpreter from the summit was imprisoned for what
the newspaper said was an interpretation error at the February summit. It said
that North Korea felt the error “damaged the authority” of Kim.
South Korea said that “it’s inappropriate to make hasty judgments or comments” about the report. There have been cases where South Korean media or intelligence officials said that an individual was executed, only for them to re-emerge months later. But some reports have also been accurate.