The Rev. Timothy A. Peters, an American humanitarian aid worker living in Seoul, South Korea, operates Helping Hands Korea and is widely regarded as one of the world's most visible advocates for human rights in North Korea.
Peters originally came to Korea in 1975 and soon became an opponent of South Korea's military dictatorship. The military regime of President Chun Doo-hwan later expelled him from South Korea for handing out anti-government leaflets. He returned to South Korea in the late 1980s. Later, when North Korea's disfavored classes were struck by a famine that ultimately killed an estimated 2.5 million people,Peters established the Ton a Month Club to help feed the North Korean people. He founded Helping Hands Korea in 1996, and later became an activist in the "underground railroad," helping North Korean refugees to escape to South Korea or other countries via China. Peters claims to have personally participated in some of these clandestine missions inside China.
Peters was featured in the CNN documentary "Undercover in the Secret State"in 2005. He testified about human rights conditions facing North Korean refugees before the U.S. Congress in 2005, and was featured in a lengthy Time Asia article in 2006. His work has also been featured in numerous newspaper articles. By early 2006, Peters had become an outspoken critic of the UNHCR. Peters' public activism played a role in the U.S. decision to admit the first six North Korean refugees into the United States in May 2006.
In 2008, Peters was awarded the Stefanus Prize for his struggle for human rights and freedom of religion or belief.
Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It is an expression of perceived conflict between an ingroup and an outgroup and may manifest in suspicion by the one of the other's activities, a desire to eliminate their presence, and fear of losing national, ethnic or racial identity.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human rights abusers to denounce abuse and respect human rights, and the group often works on behalf of refugees, children, migrants, and political prisoners.
Abductions of Japanese citizens from Japan by agents of the North Korean government took place during a period of six years from 1977 to 1983. Although only 17 Japanese are officially recognized by the Japanese government as having been abducted, there may have been hundreds of others. The North Korean government has officially admitted to abducting 13 Japanese citizens.
Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Long Beach, California, United States, and Seoul, South Korea. The organization rescues refugees hiding in China and resettles them in South Korea or the United States, so that they can avoid being forcibly repatriated back to North Korea, where they can face harsh punishments. The refugees first travel from China to Southeast Asia through what the organization calls an "Underground Railroad", and then on to South Korea where they are recognized as refugees.
North Korea's human rights record is often considered to be the worst in the world and has been globally condemned, with the United Nations, the European Union and groups such as Human Rights Watch all critical of the country's record. Most international human rights organizations consider North Korea to have no contemporary parallel with respect to violations of liberty.
Human rights in Kazakhstan are uniformly described as poor by independent observers. Human Rights Watch says that "Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion. In 2014, authorities closed newspapers, jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful but unsanctioned protests, and fined or detained worshipers for practicing religion outside state controls. Government critics, including opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, remained in detention after unfair trials. Torture remains common in places of detention."
Human rights in South Korea are codified in the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, which compiles the legal rights of its citizens. These rights are protected by the Constitution and include amendments and national referendums. These rights have evolved significantly from the days of a military dictatorship when the country was established in 1948 to the current state as a constitutional republic where elections for the presidency and the members of the unicameral National Assembly are held.
The situation of human rights in Laos has often been, and remains, a recognized cause for serious concern. Laos is one a handful of Marxist-Leninist governments and is ruled by a one-party communist government backed by the Lao People's Army in alliance with the Vietnam People's Army and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi.
Since the division of Korea after the end of World War II and the end of the Korean War (1950–1953), North Koreans have fled from the country in spite of legal punishment for political, ideological, religious, economic or personal reasons. Such North Koreans are referred to as North Korean defectors by the North Korean regime. Alternative terms in South Korea, where the defectors often end up, include "northern refugees" and "new settlers".
Signed into U.S. law by President George W. Bush on October 18, 2004, the North Korean Human Rights Act is intended to promote human rights and freedom to North Korean refugees by:
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a non-profit organization that describes itself as promoting and protecting human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. HRF organizes the Oslo Freedom Forum. The Human Rights Foundation was founded in 2005 by Thor Halvorssen Mendoza, a Venezuelan film producer and human rights advocate. The current chairman is Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and Javier El-Hage is the current chief legal officer. The foundation's head office is in New York City.
Censorship in North Korea ranks among some of the most extreme in the world, with the government able to take strict control over communications. North Korea is ranked at the bottom of Reporters Without Borders' annual Press Freedom Index, occupying the last place in 2017.
Freedom of religion in North Korea is nearly non-existent: it is officially an atheist state, and government policy continues to interfere with individual's ability to practice a religion, even though the Constitution guarantees "freedom of religious beliefs." The regime continues to repress the religious activities of unauthorized religious groups. Recent refugee, defector, missionary, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) reports indicate that religious persons engaging in proselytizing in the country, those who have ties to overseas evangelical groups operating across the border in the People's Republic of China, and specifically, those repatriated from China and found to have been in contact with foreigners or missionaries, have been arrested and subjected to harsh penalties. People found with Christian Bibles, which are considered to be a symbol of the West, can be executed or tortured. Refugees and defectors continued to allege that they witnessed the arrests and execution of members of underground Christian churches by the regime in prior years. Due to the country's inaccessibility and the inability to gain timely information, this activity remains difficult to verify.
The North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC) is an organisation established in 2003 for human rights and freedom in North Korea. The North Korea Freedom Coalition is composed of 60 organizations. Some of these organizations are advocacy groups, such as women's rights and refugee groups. Other groups have a religious background, and perform missionary work from outside of the North Korean border.
Koreans in Mongolia form one of the Korean diaspora communities in Asia. They consist of both North and South Korean expatriates.
On March 17, 2009, North Korean soldiers detained two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who were working for the U.S. independent cable television network Current TV, after they crossed into North Korea from China without a visa. They were found guilty of illegal entry and sentenced to twelve years' hard labor in June 2009. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pardoned the two on August 5, 2009, the day after former U.S. President Bill Clinton arrived in the country on a publicly unannounced visit.
People for Successful Corean Reunification (PSCORE) is a non-governmental organization based in Seoul, South Korea, and Washington D.C. in the United States. PSCORE addresses potential barriers to Korea reunification, suggests alternatives, and works to improve the situation of North Korean defectors in South Korea and China to bridge the gap between South Korea, North Korea, and the international community. The organization is made up of North and South Korean staff, interns and volunteers from South Korea and abroad, and North Korean defectors. While PSCORE provides news coverage on North Korea and helps defectors become South Korean citizens, a unique aspect is that educational programs are offered for North Korean defectors.
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim is a Korean Buddhist monk and a Seon master renowned as an author, a Dharma teacher, and for his humanitarian work. He is also a social activist, leading various movements, such as ecological awareness campaigns and the promotion of human rights, as well as working toward world peace and the eradication of famine, disease, and illiteracy. In recognition of his efforts and achievements, Pomnyun Sunim was a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in September 2002.
The Stefanus Prize is a human rights prize awarded to individuals for their outstanding contributions to defending freedom of religion or belief as defined by the Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.