| 국제사면위원회 북한인권보고서(2002)
(DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF)
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Head of state: Kim Jong Il
Head of government: Hong Song Nam
Population: 22.4 million
Official language: Korean
Death penalty: retentionist
2001 treaty ratifications/signatures: UN Women's Convention
The government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) continued to refuse access to independent human rights observers. North Korea remained heavily dependent on humanitarian aid as the food crisis deepened following severe flooding. Reports of public executions continued to be received. Freedom of religion was severely restricted. The UN Human Rights Committee made a number of recommendations in response to the submission by the government under its obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was the first submission by the North Korean government in 16 years.
Visits to the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation by Chairman Kim Jong Il signalled the continuing efforts by the government to consolidate relations with both countries. Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited North Korea in September, the first Chinese Head of State to do so since China's normalization of relations with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 1992.
Relations between North and South Korea improved in September. However, ministerial talks in November failed to reach any significant agreements. The government expressed anger at the decision by the government of South Korea to put its military and police on alert following the attacks in the USA on 11 September. As North Korea accused South Korea of introducing more armoured vehicles into the demilitarized zone, established in 1953 at the end of the Korean War, there were reports in late November of an exchange of gunfire in the area.
Contacts between North Korea and the European Union (EU) continued with a visit in May by the Prime Minister of Sweden, European Commissioner Chris Patten and EU High Representative Javier Solana. In June, a North Korean delegation visited Brussels to discuss human rights issues with the EU.
The need for sustained humanitarian aid to North Korea became increasingly urgent as chronic food shortages continued. The crisis was exacerbated by severe flooding in the eastern provinces in October which left many people dead and some 60,000 homeless; continuing problems surrounding the distribution of food aid were highlighted by reports that between July and September none was distributed. In July the head of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong-nam, visited Viet Nam to discuss food aid. The Third International NGO Conference on Humanitarian Assistance to North Korea, held in South Korea in June, discussed practical obstacles to the crisis, such as the lack of fertilizers and other materials, insufficient energy supplies and inadequate transport.
The number of North Koreans forcibly repatriated by the Chinese authorities increased sharply; many went into hiding in China to avoid being sent back. Information reaching AI suggested that almost three quarters of the North Korean refugees in China were women. There were reports that many were targeted by organized gangs, repeatedly raped and forced into prostitution.
Reports were also received of a crack-down on North Koreans who crossed the border into China. Chinese police were said to have increased checks on people's homes and to have offered rewards of up to 2,000 yuan (US$240) to Chinese citizens who gave information about North Korean refugees. At the end of July there were reports that some 50 North Koreans were being forcibly returned every two days from the border town of Lonjing (Jilin province) and that several hundred were detained awaiting repatriation in the border cities of Tumen (Jilin province) and Dandong (Liaoning province) in China. There were concerns that they had been tortured and imprisoned on their return to North Korea.
The crack-down on North Koreans was reported to have intensified after a widely publicized incident in June when North Korean refugee Jang Gil-suh and his family sought asylum in the Beijing office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The Chinese authorities allowed the family of seven to leave China for a third country on humanitarian grounds, and they were granted asylum in South Korea at the end of June 2001. They were part of a group of 17 who arrived in China in March 2000. Jang Gil-suh's mother, Jang Son-mi, was feared to have been arrested in China and forcibly returned to North Korea in March 2000 and there were fears for her safety.
North Koreans fleeing to China reported that public executions were being carried out. In July, North Korea reported to the UN Human Rights Committee that a 30-year-old man, Chu Su-man, had been publicly executed in Hamhung City in 1992 after ''unanimous requests'' by local people. The North Korean government had initially acknowledged the execution in a letter to AI in 1993, but denied it two years later, saying that there had been a mistake in translation.
In its report to the Committee, North Korea said that it had cut the number of capital offences from more than 30 to five: conspiracy against state power, high treason, terrorism, anti-national treachery and intentional murder. The Committee expressed serious concern that, apart from the crime of intentional murder, these were essentially political offences, and so vaguely worded that the death penalty could be applied to a wide range of peaceful political activities.
Recommendations by the UN Human Rights Committee
In its conclusions to the second periodic report submitted by North Korea in July, the Committee made a number of recommendations, including that the government take appropriate measures to ensure that constitutional and legislative provisions are amended to ensure the impartiality and independence of the judiciary; that amendments be made to relevant clauses of the criminal code concerning offences where the death penalty may be applied; that executions be suspended while the government takes steps to abolish the death penalty; that regular access be permitted to international human rights organizations; that every case of torture and ill-treatment be investigated by an independent body; and that conditions in places of detention be improved and that they be opened to independent, international bodies.
Reports continued to be received that people attempting to practise their religion, especially Christians, were severely impeded by the authorities. In its recommendations in July, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed serious concern about the restrictions, and requested that the authorities take practical measures ''to guarantee freedom of exercise of religion by the community''.
It was feared that several thousand Christians were being held in labour camps where they reportedly faced torture, starvation and death. In October, the Director General of the External Relations Department of the EU stated that the North Korean response to his queries on the reported persecution of Christians and on human rights issues was ''inconclusive'' and ''tentative''.