European NGOs on North Korea
Corrected March 10 2015.
While in residence at the East-West Center, Betsy Kawamura filled me in on the landscape of European NGOs working on North Korea. She estimates there are over 1,000 North Korean refugees scattered across Europe, with the most sizable contingent probably in Britain (between 630-1000 according to The Independent.)
However, the ISIS landscape is making it more difficult for virtually all refugees to land. The Independent story claims that Britain is channeling North Koreans who land in the country to South Korea because they automatically enjoy citizenship there. This means one less escape valve for North Koreans reaching third countries; in any case, North Korean refugees should have at least some say over their desired relocation. (In earlier posts [here and here] I take up some of the arcana of US asylum law that blocks us taking in North Korean refugees who are "firmly settled" in South Korea except under extraordinary circumstances).
In an outstanding piece of local journalism with international implications, Paul Fisher takes us inside the community of New Malden where over 10,000 Koreans—North and South—live and jostle against one another ideologically.
Kawamura’s own Women4Nonviolence, based in Oslo, focuses on the adverse effects of war, conflict and military bases on women, and the ways that subsequent UN action, beginning with Resolution 1325 might help (UN resources on the issue here). Kawamura has a particular interest in North Korean refugees and has been an advocate on their behalf. One feature of the site: links to several moving photo galleries related to Asia by Ana Elisa Fuentes, John Bennett, Morten Hvaal and Kawamura herself.
Among the refugees that Kawamura has worked with is Ji Hyun Park, who subsequently testified before the Commission of Inquiry. We were unaware of the short film done on Park (under the alias Yong Mi Park)—Under a Different Sky—in which she tells her story. Several weeks ago, Amnesty International UK also released a video featuring Park. The UK branch of AI provides its own coverage of the issue, replete with some local activism.
Also out of the UK (and a government body rather than an NGO): a particularly active All-Parliamentary Group on North Korea. Recently they have held public hearings on the role of women and trafficking and released a report on religious persecution. They provide an important platform for a variety of NGOs working on the issue.
Other groups that may be of interest:
- A useful site for keeping track of developments across Europe is The European Alliance on Human Rights in North Korea.
- Christian Solidarity Worldwide is not only working the religious issues, with several reports on the question, but is involved with the refugee community in Britain as well.
- Human Rights without Frontiers, out of Brussels, has also had a long-standing interest in North Korea; their coverage has lagged a bit but some useful reports are here.
- For German readers, Nordkorea-Info is an active blog site with a lot of detailed coverage of developments.
If any of our readers are involved in European organizations working on North Korea that we have missed, feel free to post information on them in the comment section below. We have argued that Europe has a potentially important role to play on the issue, particularly as a locus for human rights dialogue with Pyongyang (if it ever decides to join the world on the issue).