Joint NGO poll reveals increased South Korean interest in North Korean human rights

Kim Ji Seung, intern  |  2017-01-06 14:04
The North Korean human rights problem is becoming more severe as time goes on.  A poll was conducted for the third year in a row in order to learn about South Korean perceptions of these human rights abuses. The poll revealed people support methods like radio to educate and inform North Koreans. 

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB), NK Social Research, and the Institute for Transitional Justice and Integration (ITJI) co-hosted a seminar called, Research on Awareness of North Korean Human Rights," during which the survey findings were presented.

The annual report surveys 1,000 ordinary people (not policy experts), and has been carried out since 2014.   

South Koreans are well aware of the very severe human rights problem in North Korea, said Hankook Research Chairman Kim Chun Seok. Owing to a belief in universal human rights, most people supported the idea that South Korea should intervene to protect and promote said rights. Among the solutions supported by the respondents was the idea of using radio and other methods to raise North Korean consciousness on the issue.      

The majority of respondents indicated that it was important to increase pressure on the North and improve human rights with the cooperation of the international community, Kim said. Other measures presented included: [a] pursuing legal action against Kim Jong Un in the International Criminal Court (ICC); economic/political activities to improve North Korean human rights, and [c] recording abuses and conducting awareness campaigns in South Korea and abroad that reveal said abuses. 

When asked who should be responsible for taking actions to improve the human rights situation, respondents said: [1] the North Korean government (27.3%); [2] the South Korean government (25.4%); [3] the United Nations (15.6%); [4] international Human Rights Organizations (15.2%); [5] America and other governments (10.4%), and [6] South Korean NGOs focusing on human rights (2.9%). 

According to the survey, 94.1% of respondents indicated that the human rights problem in North Korea is severe. This large majority is a small increase (3%) from the previous year.

When asked, Are you interested in the problem of North Korean human rights? 58.1% replied affirmatively, while 41.2% replied negatively. In the 2015 poll, a slightly smaller amount of respondents indicated interest in the problem (56%). 

When asked, Will North Korean human rights improve in the near future? 74.1% said that there is no possibility that the human rights situation will improve. Only 20.7% of respondents indicated that there is possibility that the situation will get better. 

A 2014 American State Department report described the North Korean human rights situation as grim, said NKDBs Chief Director of North Korean Human Rights Archives Yoon Yeo Sang. The word grim indicates that not only is the situation extremely bad, but there is also very little hope that things will get better. Our survey reveals that South Korean people feel a very similar sentiment on this topic. 

Chairman Kim concluded, Over the course of the three years that we have been conducting this survey, South Korean people have become more interested in the North Korean human rights problem. Most people feel a deep sense of doubt and bewilderment when asked about whether the situation will improve.  
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