Too often in the past the issue of human rights in the DPRK has been treated as a separate or even a secondary concern to the security situation. Of late, the human rights situation in North Korea has received increasing international attention with the release of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report which concluded that “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” and “in many instances the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on State policies.” As DPRK nuclear and missile testing becomes more aggressive and provocative, it is imperative that policymakers and commentators alike consider the link between security and human rights. How do American and other international efforts to press the North to make progress on the human rights of its people relate to U.S. efforts to secure regional stability?
On December 12, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings hosted Ambassador Robert King as he discussed this critical nexus between human rights and security in the U.S. approach toward North Korea. Jonathan Pollack, interim SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies, provided remarks after the presentation, followed by a Q&A moderated by Richard Bush, director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies.