The U.N. Security Council is listening to North Korean escapees – this must continue 

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Joseph Kim
Joseph Kim
Program Manager, Global Policy and Expert-in-Residence
George W. Bush Institute

The United Nations Security Council recently called a meeting to discuss the human rights situation in North Korea. North Korean escapee Gumhyok Kim testified at the meeting and shared his experiences living in and escaping the hermit kingdom.  

Why This Matters 

This was the third time in recent years that the Security Council called a meeting to discuss human rights in North Korea and invited North Korean escapees to share their stories.  

These meetings are an important opportunity for North Koreans to tell key stakeholders and policymakers the truth about life under the authoritarian regime. I was invited to testify before the Security Council in March 2023, where I shared my own experiences growing up in and later escaping North Korea.  

China, a permanent member of the Security Council, does not want the stories of its ally North Korea’s abuses of its own people to come to light. Chinese delegates blocked the livestream of my testimony.   

The Security Council’s increased focus on human rights in the country can be attributed to the new U.S. Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues Ambassador Julie Turner. Before Turner’s nomination to the post in 2023, the position sat vacant for over six years. The ambassador’s focus on highlighting the stories of North Korean escapees, as well as South Korea’s role as president of the Security Council, has led to increased attention on human rights in North Korea.  

Bottom Line 

The North Korean human rights movement has lost energy and momentum in recent years, and these meetings are an important step to reenergize the movement going forward.