WASHINGTON, July 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- North Korean defectors and Korea experts told a Congressional briefing that information technology was the key to change in North Korea. "Now is high time for a new strategy to separate citizens from the North Korean system," said Cheol-hwan Kang, a defector who spent 10 years in a North Korean concentration camp. He is the co-president of Action for Korea United, President of the North Korea Strategy Center, and author of "The Aquariums of Pyongyang."
Yon-ho Kim, senior researcher at the US-Korea Institute at SAIS, urged a more aggressive infusion of information into North Korea's closed society through mass distribution of USB drives, increased cellular phone platforms, miniature drones, and other broadcast media. He noted that the content needs to address the interests and concerns of Koreans in the North more concretely, a task that will need the insights of defectors.
The briefing on July 13 was co-hosted by Congressman Matt Salmon (R—AZ), chair of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY). Cong. Salmon is the sponsor of the Distribution and Promotion of Rights and Knowledge 2016 (DPRK) Act, a new bill to authorize more advanced technology and better researched content for use in informing North Korean citizens.
The briefing and the bill are part of growing efforts targeting change in North Korea on the part of executives, legislators, and private organizations. A UN Commission of Inquiry report in February 2014 found the North Korea government guilty of "systematic, widespread, and grave violations of human rights." Last week the U.S. Treasury department named North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and 10 other individuals as subject to targeted sanctions "for their ties to North Korea's notorious abuses of human rights."
The One Korea Forum, hosted at US-Korea Institute July 13, focused on "The Power of Freedom in Addressing the Divided Human Family—Empowering the Voice of North Korean Defectors."
Grace Jo, vice-president of NKinUSA, spoke of her imprisonment with members of her family after their forcible repatriation from China where they had fled in search of food.
Dr. Edwin Feulner, the founder and former president of the Heritage Foundation, told the forum that current events suggest a "critical transitional period," with the regime "upping the ante" in its threats to global security.
Hon. Choong Whan Kim, former Republic of Korea National Assembly member and co-chair of Action for Korea United, reminded the forum of the key role of the United States in the region. He and other speakers called for the United States to support the process of unification and ending the painful division of Korea and its people. Action for Korea United is the largest Korean unification movement representing more than 800 civil society organizations.
The briefing and forum was co-sponsored by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Global Peace Foundation.
SOURCE Global Peace Foundation