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North Korea Freedom Week to Open Sunday in US

Posted April. 23, 2009 08:41,   


The sixth North Korea Freedom Week will be observed in the U.S. capital of Washington Sunday.

Suzanne Scholte, head of the North Korean human rights group Defense Forum which is hosting the event, said, “We are preparing this year’s event as the largest in our history since it`s taking place for the first time under the Obama administration.”

“We will use the event as an opportunity to publicize the serious human rights situation in North Korea and its importance to the new president, his administration and congressmen starting new terms.”

Je Sung-ho, South Korea`s envoy for North Korean human rights, will become the first Seoul official to attend the event. He will take part in a gathering at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday as the culmination of this year’s event, and explain the direction of the South`s North Korea policy and government efforts to improve the human rights situation in the North.

Also to attend will be Senator Sam Brownback and congressional members Ed Royce and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Je will also participate as a panelist in forums on North Korean human rights at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Korea Economic Institute.

The main theme of this year`s event is concentration camps in North Korea. To address the topic, seven North Korean defectors who escaped from the infamous Yoduk Camp will testify about their experiences at public hearings.

From Wednesday, an exhibition on massacres in North Korea will open at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station. The same day, the documentary "Kimjongilia,” which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, will be shown at the Capitol building.

Directed by Nancy Heikin, the documentary is about the North`s worship of North Korea`s founder Kim Il Sung and his son and incumbent leader Jong Il, as well as the horrendous situation at North Korea`s concentration camps.

Kimjongilia is the English name of a flower named after Kim Jong Il.

On May 2, an assembly will be held before the new building housing the Chinese Embassy in Washington to urge Beijing to stop repatriating North Korean defectors. Last year, North Korean defectors who settled in the United States held a hunger strike before the former Chinese Embassy there.

North Korea Freedom Week was initiated in 2004 by the North Korea Freedom Association, a coalition of some 60 North Korea human rights group across the U.S. Scholte won the Seoul Peace Prize last year for her contributions to North Korea’s human rights.