Go to contents

Students Plan Rights Rally for North

Posted June. 02, 2006 04:27,   


College students are planning to hold an assembly to call for improvement in North Korean human rights.

The Young Students’ Solidarity for North Korean Human Rights (YSS) announced on June 1, “We will hold the ‘College Students’ Progress Assembly for Improvement in North Korean Human Rights and Democracy,’ which is the first time college students alone have held a meeting related to North Korean human rights.”

Founded in May 2003, the organization has a membership of over 500 students at 25 universities nationwide.

The meeting will be attended by some 300 students from universities in Seoul—Korea, Yonsei and Sogang universities to name a few—and Chonbuk National University and other universities in North Jeolla Province.

Kim Young-hwan, the editorial board member of quarterly magazine “Sidaejeongsin” (zeitgeist) and author of the “Kangcheol Letter,” will give a speech on North Korean human rights issues and international political situations. Former Secretary Hwang Jang-yeop of the North Korean Workers’ Party will have a dialogue with students on the reality of North Korean human rights.

The YSS stated, “The meeting with Hwang will be made behind closed doors at a place in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.”

College freshmen, who take up more than 60 percent of the participants, will recite letters to North Korean college students. There will be other events as well, such as tying yellow ribbons and flying balloons in hopes of improvements in North Korean human rights.

The YSS will also summarize the outcomes it has achieved so far, among which are the “Relay Forum of the North Korean Human Rights College”—which it held at Korea, Kyunghee and Ewha Womans’ universities last month with Professor Lee Young-hun of Seoul National University’s School of Economics and Professor Yu Ho-yeol of Korea University’s Department of North Korean Studies as speakers—and its campaigns to raise awareness of human rights infringement cases in the North.

YSS President Kim Ik-hwan, a graduate student at the North Korean Reunification Policy Department in the Graduate School of Public Policy at Sogang University, said, “Not only ordinary students, but also student activists are paying more attention to North Korean human rights. The assembly will serve as an opportunity to make the North Korean human rights issue a top agenda.”

With regard to student activists’ perspective on North Korean human rights, Kim said, “Amid ‘great leader absolutism’ and the abuses of dictatorship, numerous North Korean residents are suffering at political prisons. Pro-North Korean leftist student activists, however, are still making unintelligent behaviors. Now it is time that students should openly discuss the issue of North Korean human rights.”

In association with many groups, such as college student councils who feel skeptical about student activists, and North Korean human rights-related organizations, the YSS will launch a North Korean human rights campaign and hold a large-scale meeting around August. The group expected that such organizations as the Korean Federation of University Student Councils (KFUSC) and the Pan-National Federation of Young Students for Reunification (PNFYSR) will hold reunification-related events. On this basis, it announced that it would suggest to those groups jointly holding a forum on North Korean human rights.

YSS President Kim announced, “On May 25, we suggested a discussion on North Korean human rights to the “21st Century Korean College Students’ Federation,” a group pursuing a new way of student activism, and got a positive response from it.”

Prior to this, the YSS held the “Symposium for Improved North Korean Human Rights” on May 30 at Chonbuk National University in the presence of some 150 students to discuss the current North Korean human rights situations and the significance of democratization movements in the North.

zeitung@donga.com dnsp@donga.com