As we reflect on North Korea Freedom Week, we recognize the courage of the North Korean defector and human rights community, which continues to speak on behalf of the millions of North Koreans suffering deplorable abuses and who are unable to advocate for themselves. Despite the regime’s announcement that it has overcome COVID-19, its borders remain sealed, and the humanitarian situation remains dire. More than 100,000 individuals, including children, remain detained in the country’s vast network of prison camps, while the regime diverts resources from the people and systematically uses forced labor to generate revenue in support of its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
For those who have escaped, many remain vulnerable to abuse and are subjected to transnational repression. We remain deeply concerned about the plight of North Korean asylum seekers. North Koreans who are forcibly repatriated are reportedly commonly subjected to summary execution, torture, arbitrary detention, forced abortion, and other forms of gender-based violence.
The international community must act to hold accountable those responsible for these human rights abuses. The United States remains committed to shining a spotlight on the egregious human rights situation in the DPRK and working with allies and partners to promote accountability and increase the free flow of information into, out of, and within the DPRK.