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North Korea landed in the spotlight this week after Sony halted the release of a comedy film about a fictionalized assassination of the country’s leader. The media have focused on hacked Hollywood emails, the aftermath for celebrities and producers, and the implications for freedom of speech in the United States. The civil liberties concern is real, but the more urgent human rights story is the one playing out in North Korea.
The reality is that 24 million North Koreans live under tyranny. Of those, an estimated 130,000 men, women, and children sit today in political prison camps. They're starved, beaten, and killed for disagreeing with their government. It's not a movie script - it's one of the worst human rights tragedies in the world today.
And stay tuned. Next month, the Bush Institute will release a call to action and policy recommendations for a new path forward in improving the human condition in North Korea. We can't afford to turn a blind eye to the reality of human rights violations in North Korea - even after the Hollywood headlines disappear.
Brittney Bain serves as the Director of Communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Prior to joining the Bush Center, she worked on Capitol Hill where she served most recently as deputy press secretary for the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. Bain interned in the White House Office of Communications during the George W. Bush Administration.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and her master’s degree from The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.Full Bio
Q&A with North Korean escapee Peter Oh
Peter Oh is a 2019 North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipient who is pursuing his master’s degree in international policy and practice at George Washington University. He and his younger brother escaped North Korea in 2000 in search for food. He lived in China for three years before seeking asylum in South Korea with the help of Christian missionaries. He became a reporter for Radio Free Asia in Seoul and in 2010 was transferred to the Washington, D.C. office to report on North Korean issues.
Q&A with North Korean escapee Debby Kim
Debby Kim, a two-time North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipient, is a sophomore biochemistry major at Wheaton College in Illinois and an aspiring doctor. She escaped North Korea when she was 13 years old.
Q&A with North Korean escapee LK*
LK, a three-time North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipient, is an electrical and computer engineering student at a university in Illinois. A former member of the North Korean Army, LK remains anonymous to protect family members still living in North Korea.