HHK’s Recommendation: One Strategic Way Forward in UN’s Effort to Verify Crimes Against Humanity in DPRK

A North Korean flag flutters in the propaganda village of Gijungdong as seen from a South Korean military check point of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas on November 12, 2014

UN North Korea Probe Should Initially Focus

on Defectors – Advocacy Group


03:01 25.03.2016Get short URL
0 276 1 0

UN investigators looking into possible crimes against humanity in North Korea should begin by interviewing some of the tens of thousands of defectors who can provide a wealth of evidence, Christian activist and Asia-based humanitarian aid worker Tim Peters told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR) established an independent panel of experts to study alleged crimes against humanity committed by North Korea.

“Let’s not forget that there are well over 30,000 North Korean defectors who’ve made their way to free countries now, especially the Republic of [South] Korea,” Peters told Sputnik on Thursday. “There’s a great deal of evidence there to start with.”

Apart from that, Peters added, North Korea has engaged in stupendously egregious misallocation of national resources to military and nuclear programs, and the fact up to 70 percent of its children are malnourished is clear for the entire world to see.

Peters also claimed that, in recent weeks, evidence surfaced of kindergartners in North Korea being shown propaganda footage of ballistic missiles striking Washington, DC and Seoul.”I do think it will make the case for Kim Jong-un and his ilk’s referral to the ICC [International Criminal Court] much stronger,” he suggested.

The OHCHR called on the newly-established panel of experts to recommend within the next half-a-year ways of securing justice for victims of alleged crimes against humanity in North Korea, including through the International Criminal Court.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/asia/20160325/1036936298/un-north-korea-probe.html#ixzz45Clm37Nf

Posted in New Developments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on HHK’s Recommendation: One Strategic Way Forward in UN’s Effort to Verify Crimes Against Humanity in DPRK

HHK Media Commentary:How Pyongyang Will Likely Sidestep New US/UN Sanctions

A North Korean woman walks down the streets of Pyongyang, North Korea on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 where the winter season has started

North Korea to Offset US Sanctions by Exporting

More Workers Abroad

© AP Photo/ Wong Maye-E

06:58 21.02.2016(updated 11:25 21.02.2016) Get short URL

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will likely send more citizens to work abroad to offset financial losses inflicted by the new US economic sanctions, Christian activist and Asia-based humanitarian aid worker Tim Peters told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Thursday, US President Barack Obama signed into law the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act that strengthens and expands statutory sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile activities.

“The added sanctions may cause some additional belt-tightening by the Kim regime,” Peters stated on Saturday. “Most likely… Kim Jong Un will send out additional workers to the tens of thousands that are already overseas to gain foreign currency.”

The North Korean regime will skim up to eighty percent from the salaries of these added “worker bees,” Peters noted, to help compensate from revenues lost by both sanctions and South Korea’s closing of the Kaesong industrial complex.

On February 3, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced that it was suspending operations at the Kaesong industrial complex, run jointly by North and South Korea, in response to Pyongyang’s recent nuclear bomb test and satellite launch.

Peters added that North Korea’s “quick buck” strategy to raise state revenue is inherently short-sighted and self-defeating because as citizens are exposed to the relative prosperity of China and other countries, “disenchantment will inevitably set in.”

Earlier this month, North Korea fired a long-range rocket to allegedly put a satellite into orbit in violation of a UN Security Council resolution. In January, Pyongyang declared that it had successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160221/1035115348/north-korea-sanctions-workers.html#ixzz40xz8hG2p

Posted in Featured Op-Ed Columns, Human Rights & Wrongs, New Developments, Publications | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on HHK Media Commentary:How Pyongyang Will Likely Sidestep New US/UN Sanctions

HHK reveals how to “Smuggle Vegetable Seeds into North Korea”—Huffington Post

How to Smuggle Vegetables Into North Korea Huffington Post Edition: US   01/26/2016 05:17 pm ET | Updated Jan 26, 2016                    


Rachel Stine has worked with North Korean refugees for six years. Today, she lives in Seoul, where she writes about traditional culture and politics.

Reverend Timothy Peters wears wire-framed glasses, a button-down shirt, and a bright smile. At first glance, one might imagine him teaching at an Ivy League university. But beneath his jovial, academic exterior, you will find an iron-willed activist. In 2006, Reverend Peters’ was featured on the cover of Time Asia alongside the words: “Seoul Saver.” He serves as one of the major conductors on Asia’s great underground railroad, which spans across the continent and helps North Koreans escape to free countries. In 2015 alone, his NGO, Helping Hands Korea, helped 120 escapees obtain amnesty.

Tim and his wife, Sunmi, stand on a Chinese bridge with North Korea in the background.

Reverend Peters’ latest project, however, aims to impact more lives. Rather than just spiriting a trickle of refugees to freedom abroad, he is also smuggling nutrient-rich vegetable seeds into North Korea, in a bold effort to provide food security for the 24.9 million people still trapped behind its barbed wire borders.

This campaign comes at a critical time. Due to some minor land reforms in the North, rural families now are allowed to cultivate tiny plots of land privately. A China-based refugee explained to him: “We have the land now, but we don’t have seeds.”

“When she said that, I knew we were on the right track,” Tim said. “I believe we were providentially led in this direction.”

The Seed Project began in summer of 2015, when a member of Reverend Peter’s activist group, Catacombs, returned from a visit to her family farm in Michigan. She brought vegetable seeds to Seoul, thinking it would be a lightweight and discreet way to send food aid into North Korea.

Reverend Peters recalled of that time: “We sent the first batches into North Korea using various networks. Soon after that, another Catacombs member, Ed, mentioned that his grandfather bequeathed to him a chestnut orchard some time ago. I half-jokingly said: ‘Ed, are all those chestnuts just rotting on the ground when you’re over here in Korea?’ The next thing I knew, his family had sent a big box of seeds from America as a donation to our initiative. That is how The Seed Project began.”

Catacombs volunteers — a motley assortment of graduate students, English teachers, military personnel, and local high school students — now gather weekly at a small art gallery. Their goal is to repackage high-quality vegetable seeds with Korean planting instructions, while keeping up-to-date on the latest North Korea headlines. This winter, they have prepped over one thousand units.

Food security is still a problem in the North, where the United Nations estimates that 31% of citizens are undernourished. Through volunteer work, Catacombs members hope to slash those numbers. The strategy is effective especially in rural provinces, where people tend to be poor, but equipped with basic agricultural skills.

Attendees spend about two hours a week hunched over two round-top tables. As they repackage seeds, there is a lively buzz of conversation over trays of cookies and hot tea. In one corner, a graphic novelist and an illustrator discuss their latest publications. While scooping seeds from a Daiso container, a Fulbright scholar and PhD candidate quietly lament the tribulations of academics. English teachers at another table recommend EFL songs from YouTube for use in their classes. Around 9 P.M., the conversation quiets as Reverend Peters closes with a group prayer.

Despite the religious nature of Peters’ approach, Catacombs enjoys significant support from human rights activists on the secular left. At any given meeting, a third of the attendees are atheist or agnostic. Included in this demographic is regular attendant Craig Urquhart. A Canadian activist, Craig recently donated approximately 100 packets of organic, heirloom seeds designed to grow well in frosty climates.

“It’s not like we’re sending Bibles North,” he said. “We’re sending seeds – food – and a path to a better future. Sending seeds North is one way to help North Koreans who suffer repression by their government. It slightly reduces their dependence on the state dictatorship and it fosters food independence. There’s no negative to this kind of engagement.”

Kurt Achin, a Seoul-based journalist and Catholic supporter of the program, remarked: “I met Tim in 2004 when I came over here to report on defectors and human rights. I am a huge supporter of his quiet approach.”

“The quiet approach” refers to the manner in which Helping Hands Korea has used only a very basic website to create a substantial movement. Despite having no social media presence, they have one of the rescue rates of any registered nonprofit organization. Since 2014, they have helped over 220 North Koreans leave dangerous situations. Reverend Peters has plans to expand The Seed Project over the course of this year, by boosting donations and increasing the number of repackaging workshops.

“We are very excited about this project,” Reverend Peters said. “We are building on the lessons Helping Hands Korea has learned during our twenty years of helping North Koreans in crisis, operating outside of the Kim regime’s structures to reach the most vulnerable. We will continue to maximize ‘trickle-down’ dynamics in our deliveries of vegetable seeds. This will have a deeply positive impact on North Korean families. The enthusiasm and active ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ participation in the seeds initiative by young people – Koreans and expats alike – is a huge encouragement. The torch is being passed to a new and very capable generation.”

Posted in New Developments | Comments Off on HHK reveals how to “Smuggle Vegetable Seeds into North Korea”—Huffington Post

Swimming Upstream Improves Your Vision!

Guest Column in the magazine: The Argus (Hanguk University of Foreign Studies)

Tim Peters

Founder / director of Helping Hands Korea_Catacombs

OK, I will admit that I did not double-check with a marine biologist whether the above assertion holds true for fish or not, but my ‘theory’ has far more to do with homo sapiens, and the life choices of the university student subset of this species in particular!

First, let me share a little bit of what has occupied me over the past 19 years in Korea. Like many other foreigners on this peninsula, I have done stints as an English teacher, editor, speechwriter, proofreader lecturer, and a few other pursuits, too. All well and good. However, one ‘extracurricular activity’ unexpectedly grew into a passion for me: assisting North Koreans in crisis. When my family returned to Korea in 1996, news of North Korea’s crippling famine was just beginning to leak out of the Secret State through isolated news reports and accounts provided by border crossers. So troubling at the time were detailed reports of dire food shortages, widespread malnutrition, stunted grown of a generation of children and even some startling accounts of cannibalism, that I became convinced that my priorities could not be maintained ‘business as usual.’ In short, my values as a human being, much less as a Christian, were being challenged. As a first step, our family of seven came to the decision to dedicate out of our monthly family budget enough to purchase a ton of corn in China to be sent into North Korea. This monthly pledge became the seed money for our fledgling Ton-a-Month Club, which others slowly began to join. We felt like pioneers. I was learning to swim upstream and as I did, my eyes opened to other ‘inconvenient truths.’

Almost as disturbing to me as news of the humanitarian disaster unfolding above the 38th Parallel was the apathy I witnessed both globally and here on the southern half of this peninsula. Yes, notable


30 www.theargus.org   Voice of Wisdom

and noble exceptions stood out, such
as the UN World Food Program
(WFP), Caritas, Korean Red Cross as
well as food aid initiatives from the
public and private sectors in South
Korea. Even so, I could not help but
be dumbfounded by life’s unnerving
normalcy for millions of Seoulites,
who were swimming downstream
and seemingly oblivious to fellow
Koreans starving 50 kilometers
to the north! I began to accept
invitations to speak at universities,
service clubs, high schools, and
churches. These opportunities to
raise awareness were surely steps
in the right direction, but I had a gnawing feeling that it wasn’t enough. I felt compelled to join fellow activists who organized street demonstrations of protest in front of Chinese embassies in Seoul, Tokyo, Washington D.C., as well as European capitals when North Korean refugees were forcibly repatriated to North Korea to torture, imprisonment and even forced abortions of pregnant female refugees. Such vocal protests were not always popular. Fighting for social justice often pushes against the prevailing social current, may involve discomfort and often requires a new swim stroke!

Over time it became clear that food aid and protests would not be enough. Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans were fleeing famine and the repressive Kim regime in the North yet their reception in China was anything but hospitable! Refugees needed a place of safety, refreshment, encouragement and logistical assistance. One by one, activists began to ‘swim upstream’ to help desperate refugees make their way to freedom along the underground railroad, reminiscent of the human chain of volunteers who helped American slaves to freedom in the mid-19th Century in the US. Thousands of North Korean defectors have found freedom via hazardous journeys with assistance through third countries, such as Mongolia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and even Far East Russia. The price for swimming upstream in this way was high: a number of activists were detained and served prison time for the ‘crime’(in the eyes of Beijing) of providing humanitarian assistance to the refugees.

At times, swimming upstream not only improves the swimmer’s own sensitivity for the needs of others and social justice, but can also provide enhanced vision for many others. When NGOs like ours first started helping the refugees, our principal motivations were humanitarian rescue and unconditional mercy for the persecuted. Over time our non- profit community began to collect the testimonies of North Korean defectors, including human rights abuses they endured in North Korea and China. Some accounts were later used in the landmark UN

Commission of Inquiry’s detailed report on the human rights in North Korea.

Examples are legion throughout history of those who have made the lonely decision to swim upstream and they can be found in every culture and society. Those who reach the stature of a Ghandi, William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln or Nelson Mandela will naturally be very few. Yet I am convinced that each and every one of us can strive to hear the whisper of conscience and charity in our own heart, seek to recognize the difference between temporal and truly enduring values, search for and find the courage to swim upstream against the current of narcissistic living. We may not always succeed, and that is to be expected. At the same time, many have discovered that swimming upstream is so exhilarating and liberating that it has become a lifelong habit!

page31image32832 page31image33000

  • –  The NGO website is www.helpinghandskorea.org
  • –  He can be reached at tapkorea@gmail.com
  • –  Tim hosts a weekly Catacombs forum on ‘all things

    North Korea’, Tues. 7~9 P.M., in DL Gallery: turn left out of Samgakji Station’s Exit 2, and walk through a small passageway about 40 meters to the gallery on the right (located between a cafe and fish restaurant).

Posted in New Developments | Comments Off on Swimming Upstream Improves Your Vision!

Poetic (or comic) Justice:Defector activists in the South gird for epic balloon ‘DVD drop’ of the “The Interview” over North Korea!–Hollywood Reporter


Courtesy of Human Rights Foundation

As HHK asserted as early as December 10th, blame for the egregiously criminal SONY hack has now officially been laid by the US government at the feet of the North Korean regime. Although distribution of the movie spoof on Kim Jong Un has been frozen by North Korea’s mafia tactics in the US, this heavy-handed North Korean censorship may very well  be undone by enormous balloons and winter updrafts near the DMZ very soon!

The Hollywood Reporter published on Friday, Dec.16th, that: “…..Kim Jong Un better brace himself because The Interview is headed to his country. Human rights activists are planning to airlift DVDs of the Seth Rogen comedy into the country via hydrogen balloons.” Read more of this article here:

Posted in New Developments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Poetic (or comic) Justice:Defector activists in the South gird for epic balloon ‘DVD drop’ of the “The Interview” over North Korea!–Hollywood Reporter

SONY Hack & Brutal Threats Put North Korea’s Mafia-like Intimidation Tactics on Full Display

North Korea calls new Seth Rogen film, The Interview, an \’act of war\’

With the recent hacking attack on SONY Pictures Entertainment, the free world has most likely been given a unique glimpse into the level of intimidation and Mafia methods that the Kim Jong Un’s North Korean regime uses on its own people. As anyone familiar with the regime’s actions might expect, North Korea has made it difficult to trace their action, but they implicated themselves when they called the cyberattack “a righteous action.”

Let’s assume for a moment the strong probability that North Korea is behind the SONY hacking is accurate, either directly or through better trained ‘hired guns’ in Russia,Eastern Europe or Iran. This time the vicious strong-armed tactics that the North Korean regime usually unleashes on its own people are being applied to a commercial enterprise in a free country. Why? North Korea’s  bizarre target  for its cyber-rage is  The Interview, a parody on  North Korea’s wet-behind-the-ears-leadership. Enfant terrible, Kim Jong Un’s pride is royally offended. By the way, the people of North Korea’s  ‘secret state’ know all too well what his wrath feels like: banishment, three-generation imprisonment in the gulag, torture, and summary execution.

At the moment, the Internet is abuzz with news of SONY’s lost profits due to the hackers’  theft of five of its new movies, not to mention the compromising of personal information of its stars, employees and clients. Mass media are gravitating in a feeding frenzy to the unflattering remarks by SONY’s film directors about President Obama and the conglomerate’s own stars, Angelina Jolie and Adam Sandler, than it is on the wider implications of this crime.

What is really going on here? A bit of reflection should prompt the obvious conclusion that the  20+million citizens of North Korea are subject to the same type of totalitarian intimidation that North Korea or its clients are clumsily trying to apply to SONY. The only difference is that DPRK residents are subject to this treatment on a daily basis. Although less spectacular than the SONY hack and largely unseen by the international community, the citizens of North Korea are perpetually held in a vice grip. As the landmark 2014 UN COI report made abundantly clear, the denial of human rights inside North Korea is “horrific.” To quote just a brief section from a statement by Commission’s Chairman, Justice Michael Kirby,”The Commission of Inquiry has found systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations occurring in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It has also found a disturbing array of crimes against humanity. These crimes are committed against inmates of political and other prison camps; against starving populations; against religious believers; against persons who try to flee the country – including those forcibly repatriated by China.”

It is for this very reason that HHK_Catacombs has dedicated itself for the past 18 years to lending vital assistance to North Koreans in crisis: refugees, orphans, homeless children, persecuted Christians, and citizens on the bottom of of North Korea’s “songbun” social system, deprived of adequate food, medical care and human rights of any kind.

Most likely, SONY will lose some of its profits for angering the Kim family regime of North Korea. This will be a mere speed bump for the corporate giant. By contrast, the real tragedy is that each North Korean life is sacrificed to the whims and impulsive rage of a line of leaders characterized by narcissism and sadistic practices and policies.

Seth Rogen’s parody of the amateurish tyrant, Kim Jong Un, will get laughs; he and James Franco will get big Hollywood paychecks. But the daily suffering of tens of millions of North Korean people  in the DPRK’s ‘straitjacket society’ is no laughing matter.

Posted in In the Media, New Developments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on SONY Hack & Brutal Threats Put North Korea’s Mafia-like Intimidation Tactics on Full Display

Published Urgent Appeal to Pope Francis by HHK:Need to Spotlight Suffering & Rights Abuses in North Korea!

Pope Francis to visit Korea Aug.14th for several days

An Appeal to Pope Francis: Address the Widespread Suffering and Human Rights Abuses in North Korea!

(Read in Korean from the Dailian online news site:)

Francis of Assisi of the 13th century, in his deliberate choice of poverty, his care of lepers and identification in Christ’s name with every kind of outcast of medieval Italy, virtually revolutionized an impotent church that had fallen into decay.

Our 21st century Pope Francis, during his visit to the Korean Peninsula, will reportedly focus to a large degree on the poor, disabled and marginalized, as has been the case in his travels elsewhere in the world. We celebrate such an emphasis! Just as the pope has spoken out forcefully in recent days to protect beleaguered  Iraqi Chaldean Catholics, Syrian Orthodox and other religious minorities threatened with genocide by terrorist ISIS forces in Iraq, so we respectfully urge Pope Francis to publicly take up the issue of the egregiously harassed catacombs Christians of North Korea.

Annually for nearly a decade, North Korean believers, both the underground house church and the ‘refugee church’, have been designated by the internationally recognized agency, Open Doors, as the most severely persecuted national Christian church on the planet. Typical North Korean harassment of secret Christians includes arrest, denial of due process, imprisonment of three generations of the accused, torture and even summary execution.  Pope Francis’ visit presents an historic opportunity to identify with these suffering, heroic believers that bring immediacy to the memory of 124 Korean Catholic martyrs canonized by Pope Francis.

Beyond the persecuted underground believers, we also urge Pope Francis to speak out boldly on behalf of the entire beleaguered population of North Korea, which is plagued with malnutrition and politically oppression.  Over 21 million North Koreans, as documented by the UN Commission of Inquiry in March of 2014, are utterly bereft of virtually all human rights. UN COI Chairman Kirby went so far as to declare that crimes against humanity have been and are being committed against the entire population of North Korea.

In recognition and admiration for his lifetime of commitment to the poor, downtrodden and marginalized, we will fervently pray that the Vicar of Rome who, like his namesake Francis of Assisi, has manifested such an extraordinary concern for the world’s poor and downtrodden, will extend his embrace of comfort and protection to the suffering multitudes north of the 38th Parallel.

Tim Peters

Christian Activist




August 13, 2014

Posted in New Developments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Published Urgent Appeal to Pope Francis by HHK:Need to Spotlight Suffering & Rights Abuses in North Korea!

Arirang TV Interviews Tim to explore HHK’s projects that meet urgent human rights needs of North Korean children & refugees

As part of its Children’s Day coverage, Arirang TV invited Helping Hands Korea’s (HHK) director Tim Peters in for a KOREA TODAY  interview on the plight of North Korean children on both sides of DPRK’s borders and a glimpse of various projects and initiatives HHK has developed and is actively engaged in to meet those urgent needs.                To introduce the program, Arirang sent out the following: “To mark Children’s Day in Korea, we invite Christian Activist and Founder of NGO Helping Hands Korea, Tim Peters, to discuss his insights regarding children’s human rights in North Korea and personal stories of North Korean children struggling with their lives in China. 어린이날을 맞아, 북한의 어린이날에 대한 얘기와 북한 어린이들과 탈북 어린이들의 인권문제에 대해 이야기 나눠본다.” Arirang TV informed HHK that this English language broadcast will not only reach viewers in South Korea, but in 190 nations worldwide through various public broadcasting services; in the US via DIRECT TV.  Tim’s interview segment of the KOREA TODAY broadcast can be seen on NAVER TVcast here: http://tvcast.naver.com/v/151309 (The full hour-long Children’s Day(5/5/14) broadcast of KOREA TODAY will be available soon from its video archives shown here: http://www.arirang.co.kr/Tv2/Tv_Video_On.asp?PROG_CODE=TVCR0635&code=Po6&sys_lang=Eng#

Posted in New Developments | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Arirang TV Interviews Tim to explore HHK’s projects that meet urgent human rights needs of North Korean children & refugees

HHK Director Tim Peters sounds off in the New York Post on the worsening plight of North Koreans and defectors under Kim Jong Un

Life inside the surreal, cruel & sheltered

North Korea By Maureen Callahan January 11, 2014 | 2:28pm

Starving in the Countryside

It (defecting from North Korea) is a treacherous undertaking: those who do not freeze to death might starve to death or be caught and turned back to face execution. Women defectors are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking.

“It is rampant,” says Tim Peters, founder of the aid group Helping Hands Korea. “North Korean women are so helpless — they cannot speak the language. They are without documents. There is the lack of a criminal-justice system in China, and the traffickers run wild. If the women aren’t sold to the sex trade, they are, equally as dangerously, sold as brides to Chinese men.”

But life inside North Korea is so desperate, Peters says, that they’re willing to take the risk. “They think, ‘If I’m a bride, at least I’ll have enough to eat.’”

Wonder at the Outside World

Once beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom, North Koreans cannot believe what the outside world has to offer. Unfamiliar with modern plumbing, they don’t know how to flush toilets. Water that runs all day, every day, astonishes, as does the abundance of food.

And then comes the larger realization: These people have freedoms.

“I have sat with refugees in farmhouses on the Chinese border, and they’re watching South Korean TV, and they see cellphones and fashion and washing machines, and their jaws hang open,” says Demick.

“Even a short while in China,” says Peters, “makes it clear how grossly they’ve been lied to their entire lives.”

Meanwhile, what must North Koreans, the most homogenous society in the world, make of this nearly 7-foot tall pierced, tattooed, boa-wearing basketball player, probably the first black man and American they’ve seen in person?

“North Koreans would highlight the suffering of blacks in America, and say ‘Here is a disaffected black American who has suffered,’ ” Peters says. “There is a reason they want to put him in the state-run narrative, but the rank and file would be extremely puzzled.”

And Kim’s basketball diplomacy isn’t going to be enough to staunch the flight of young people, who increasingly suspect the world outside must be better than within.

“Kim Jong-un has made it clear that even though his father was brutal, he will be even worse,” Peters says. “And his father was a very cruel man.”

READ MORE: http://nypost.com/2014/01/11/life-inside-the-surreal-cruel-sheltered-north-korea/

Posted in In the Media, New Developments, Testimonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on HHK Director Tim Peters sounds off in the New York Post on the worsening plight of North Koreans and defectors under Kim Jong Un

Why HHK has maintained its Ton-a-Month food aid program to North Koreans in crisis since 1996…..

Life and death on margins of North Korea society  –AFP  (Korea Herald 8-25-2013)

North Korea’s famine in the 1990s unleashed a Darwinian struggle for survival that swiftly eliminated many of the most vulnerable in an already sharply stratified society, a U.N. panel heard Thursday.

“People are treated without dignity in North Korea ― and in some cases like sub-humans,” said Ji Seong-ho, who was 14 when he lost his hand and left leg trying to steal coal from a moving train during the famine years.

Ji, now 31, was one of a number of North Korean defectors called to testify before a U.N. Commission of Inquiry into human rights in North Korea that is currently holding hearings in Seoul.

The North, which strongly denies allegations of rights abuses, has refused to recognize the commission and barred its members from visiting the country.

Ji said mentally and physically disabled people faced widespread social and official discrimination in North Korea, where they are judged as being of “no use” to society.

“When I was young, before my accident, I admit I used to make fun of adults with disabilities,” he said.

During the 1994-98 famine, which saw hundreds of thousands starve to death, ordinary North Koreans had to focus all their energies on scavenging to stay alive.

Food was so scarce that there was little to share and those who could not fend for themselves ― the very young, the elderly, the disabled ― were at particular risk.

“We had disabled people in our town, but by the time the food situation had begun to improve slightly in the late 1990s, we didn’t see them any more, meaning they must have died,” Ji said.

In March 1996 he was attempting to steal coal from a train to sell for food when he fell under the wheels, severing his left hand and leg.

“It was only then I realized how loud I could scream,” said Ji, who was taken to hospital and operated on without morphine or general anesthetic.

Unable to walk without crutches and with no job prospects, Ji managed to cross the border illegally into China in 2000 in an effort to find food for his family. Read More

Posted in Human Rights & Wrongs, In the Media, New Developments, Testimonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why HHK has maintained its Ton-a-Month food aid program to North Koreans in crisis since 1996…..