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December 17, 2013

How Dennis Rodman Can Help the North Korean People
An Op-Ed By Shin Dong-hyuk

The following op-ed by Shin Dong-hyuk — a human rights activist and the only person born in a North Korean labor camp known to have escaped to the West — was published in the Washington Post on December 17, 2013.  It is available here.

Dear Mr. Rodman:

I have never met you, and until you visited North Korea in February I had never heard of you. Now I know very well that you are a famous, retired American basketball player with many tattoos. I also understand that you are returning this week to North Korea to coach basketball and perhaps visit for the third time with the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, who has become your friend.

I want to tell you about myself. I was born in 1982 in Camp 14, a political prison in the mountains of North Korea. For more than 50 years, Kim Jong Un, his father and his grandfather have used prisons such as Camp 14 to punish, starve and work to death people who the regime decides are a threat. Prisoners are sent to places like Camp 14 without trial and in secret. A prisoner’s “crime” can be his relation by blood to someone the regime believes is a wrongdoer or wrong-thinker. My crime was to be born as the son of a man whose brother fled to South Korea in the 1950s.

You can see satellite pictures of Camp 14 and four other labor camps on your smartphone. At this very moment, people are starving in these camps. Others are being beaten, and someone soon will be publicly executed as a lesson to other prisoners to work hard and obey the rules. I grew up watching these executions, including the hanging of my mother.

On orders of the guards in Camp 14, inmates are forced to marry and create children to be raised by guards to be disposable slaves. Until I escaped in 2005, I was one of those slaves. My body is covered with scars from torture I endured in the camp.

Mr. Rodman, if you want to know more about me, I will send you a book about my life, “Escape From Camp 14.” Along with the stories of many other camp survivors, my story helped persuade the United Nations to create a commission of inquiry that is now investigating human rights atrocities in my country. I was “witness number one.” In the coming year, the commission’s findings may force the U.N. Security Council to decide whether to approve a trial in the International Criminal Court of the Kim family and other North Korean officials for crimes against humanity.

I happen to be about the same age as your friend Kim Jong Un. But if you ask him about me, he is likely to refer to me as “human scum.” That is how his state-controlled press refers to me and all other North Koreans who have risked death by fleeing the country. Your friend probably also will deny that Camp 14 exists, which is the official position of his government. If he does, you can show him pictures of it on your phone.

Mr. Rodman, I cannot presume to tell you to cancel your trip to North Korea. It is your right as an American to travel wherever you wish and to say whatever you want. It is your right to drink fancy wines and enjoy yourself in luxurious parties, as you reportedly did in your previous trips to Pyongyang. But as you have a fun time with the dictator, please try to think about what he and his family have done and continue to do. Just last week, Kim Jong Un ordered the execution of his uncle. Recent satellite pictures show that some of the North’s labor camps, including Camp 14, may be expanding. The U.N. World Food Programme says four out of five North Koreans are hungry. Severe malnutrition has stunted and cognitively impaired hundreds of thousands of children. Young North Korean women fleeing the country in search of food are often sold into human-trafficking rings in China and beyond.

I am writing to you, Mr. Rodman, because, more than anything else, I want Kim Jong Un to hear the cries of his people. Maybe you could use your friendship and your time together to help him understand that he has the power to close the camps and rebuild the country’s economy so everyone can afford to eat.

No dictatorship lasts forever. Freedom will come to North Korea someday. When it does, my wish is that you will have, in some way, helped bring about change. I end this letter in the hope that you can use your friendship with the dictator to be a friend to the North Korean people.


November 30, 2013

Shin Dong-hyuk and Inside NK are hosting premieres for the film “The Defector: Escape From North Korea” on Thursday, December 5, 2013, in Washington, D.C., and on Friday, December 6, 2013, in Virginia.

Click Here for the Official Trailer to The Defector: Escape From North Korea

updated flier


kim jongSunday, December 18, 2011

Breaking News: Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s Oppressive Dictator, Reportedly Dead at 69

Reuters reports that Kim Jong Il died Saturday on a train trip.   According to Bloomberg and South Korean News Reports, after Kim Jong Il suffered from a stroke in 2008, he may have contracted pancreatic cancer.  Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un, is believed to be in his late twenties.

Kim Jong Il is the son of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first dictator, who began to lead North Korea after the Korean peninsula was divided into North and South after the Korean War.  Kim Jong Il came to power at his father’s death in 1994; his regime created the “world’s worst human rights crisis.”   Over 2.5 million North Koreans were killed by Kim Jong Il’s government-orchestrated mass-starvation in the 1990s.  Hunger continues in North Korea, despite international aid and global food surpluses.  Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have been held in concentration camps for disloyalty and dissent.  Isolated and monitored for over 17 years, and forced to praise nationalist propaganda, the North Korean people are perhaps the most oppressed populace in the jong il

With Kim Jong Il’s passing, the Korean peninsula faces grave uncertainty — from the North and from bordering China.  A new leader presents an unknown for the international community.  The changing of the guard, however, also creates potential opportunities for reunification, international engagement, and human rights advancements for the North Korean people.   Will KimJong Il’s passing signify progress for the North Korean people and peace and reunification for the Korean peninsula?

For Bloomberg’s article, click here.
For CNN’s article, click here.
For BBC’s article, click here.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

North Korea Freedom Fest, a mini film festival focusing on North Korea human rights issues, will take place in Washington D.C., on April 25 and 26, 2011, at West End Cinema, 2301 M. Street ,NW.  The film festival will feature screenings of Seoul Train, Kimjongilia, and Abduction.



Save the Date: April 24-April 30, 2011, North Korea Freedom Week in Seoul, South Korea

March 14, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011
The 8th Annual North Korea Freedom Week will take place in Seoul, South Korea this year from April 24th to April 30, 2011.  To take advantage of the dramatic changes occurring inside North Korea and the change of attitudes in South Korea towards the human rights issues, the main events of North [...]

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Introducing LiNK’s New 2011 Chapter Campaign

February 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Click here to watch LiNK’s video.
Click here to get involved and start a LiNK chapter.
Click here to learn about LiNK’s 100 Campaign.
And click here to learn more about LiNK.
From LiNK (Liberty in North Korea):
“LiNK Chapters are flexing their fundraising muscles like never before: this year’s goal is to raise enough money to [...]

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New Content: The Bride-Trafficking of North Korean Refugee Women

January 10, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011
New content on the Bride-Trafficking of North Korean Refugee Women is available here.

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Hiding: A New Documentary about Five North Korean Refugees

September 29, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 (Updated Friday, January 14, 2011)
Check out LiNK (Liberty in North Korea)’s new film, “Hiding.”  Hiding is about five North Korean refugees hiding in China today and their attempt to escape.
Click here to watch Hiding’s Trailer.  Click here to find a screening near you. Click here to organize a screening.

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September 23-24, 2010: NKFC’s Save North Korean Refugees Day, Washington DC

September 17, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010 (Updated Tuesday, September 21, 2010)
The North Korea Freedom Coalition invites you to the Second Annual SAVE NORTH KOREAN REFUGEES DAY in Washington, DC on Friday, September 23-24, 2010
This day of advocacy will include the following events:

September 23, 2010: United States Congressional Hearing, Escaping North Korea:  The Plight of Defectors
2172 Rayburn House [...]

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Save the Date: North Korea Freedom Week 2010, Seoul, South Korea (Updated)

April 1, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010 (Updated Tuesday, April 20, 2010)
North Korea Freedom Week 2010 will be held in Seoul, South Korea, from April 25 – May 1. 
Established in 2004 by the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC), North Korea Freedom Week (NKFW) started as a single day and has expanded to a week-long, yearly event.  North [...]

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