North Korea
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EAHRNK conference on UN Inquiry into North Korea’s human rights violations

North Korea denies 2014 COI report, accuses witnesses and COI members of conspiracy

I was in London earlier in March to attend the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK)‘s conference on the Commission of Inquiry.

The conference was attended by South Korean diplomats, North Korean exiles (the EAHRNK chose the term’exile’ over ‘defectees’, which I find to be more appropriate), journalists (British and Korean, including the BBC and YTN – Dan Damon was there!) , diplomatic and NGO representations (including UN Women), and of course, students.

Commissioner Michael Kirby, lead author of the 2014 COI report gave a moving speech – I highly recommend you take a look at his speeches on NKHR. Dr. Lee Jung-hoon, Human Rights Ambassador of the ROK and professor at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies gave the keynote speech – very moving, I wish there was a recording of this somewhere. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was also supposed to give a speech – but did not attend.

The EAHRNK prides itself in including exiles in its organisation, and it should. Inclusion is important  – several NKHR organisations in South Korea are run by exiles too.

It was most important for me to hear North Koreans speak, simply because I hadn’t heard any non-propaganda material from the country. As I’ll be working with North Korean exiles in Oslo soon, it was an opportunity to see if there were any major differences, despite the fact that exiles assimilate into the South Korean standard dialect (that of Seoul) as much as possible.

Overall, there were some differences, but nothing significant except for a couple of words that were even misinterpreted by the interpreter service of the EAHRNK (the person wasn’t a professional interpreter but was probably pushed to do the job because, after a quick search, it turns out she is an active translator). You can read more about the linguistic aspect at my Korean blog.

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