It has been reported that the Ministry of Unification has unilaterally suspended the 21-year-old investigations of the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB), a non-profit private organization, into human rights in North Korea. As a result, South Korea’s only white paper on the North Korean human rights issue that has been published annually for 14 years is at the risk of discontinuation.
According to the NKDB on Tuesday, the Ministry of Unification gave the notice to stop the investigations into human rights in North Korea conducted since 1999 with North Korean defectors at Hanawon, a settlement support center for North Korean refugees. From the 1990s to last year, the NKDB identified 78,798 human rights violation cases in North Korea and 48,822 people involved in them based on the testimonials of North Korean defectors who recently entered South Korea. These figures are the largest in South Korea.
However, the Ministry of Unification requested the reduction of North Korea defectors subject to in-depth investigations in January prior to the signing of a survey project agreement, which had been signed annually until this year. The ministry cited the reasons that the number of North Korean defectors declined and the Center for North Korean Human Rights Records under the ministry, which was launched with the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act, conducts similar research. However, a member of the NKDB said that the ministry notified of survey suspension as the deadline to sign a consignment contract has passed after the center agreed to the request of the ministry in March even though the ministry had not mentioned the deadline at all.
“The Ministry of Unification has not disclosed any information about its research without publishing any reports or white papers on the North Korean human rights issue for the last four years,” said Yoon Yeo-sang, chief executive director of the NKDB. “The government is turning away from North Korean human rights investigations, which are necessary for preparation for the Korean unification.”
Oh-Hyuk Kwon email@example.com