Human Rights Efforts in Korea

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Last week North Korea once again took a defiant stance toward the world by declaring its right to test what is widely believed to be a long-range missile. Given the pugnacious rhetoric exchanged between the U.S. and North Korea over the years, it’s easy to overlook the non-governmental Korean organizations doing important work to heal the fractured peninsula and bring peace to the region.    

The National Human Rights Commission, for example, is an advocacy institution for human rights protection established in 2001. It has developed a clear position on addressing North Korean human rights that recognizes the fundamental rights of Korean citizens while taking into account “the uniqueness of inter-Korean relations.” 

Also, the Korean Democracy Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing Korean democracy, includes in its efforts not only future-oriented organizing but also memorializing the history of Korea’s human rights struggle. The organization’s website contains a “Modern History of Democracy and Democratization Movement in Korea,” a primer on contemporary Korean politics from an alternative, grassroots perspective.        

Both of these organizations highlight the vast cultural knowledge that is often missing from the U.S.-North Korea debate. 

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