Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights

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Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights
Formation December 10, 1999; 16 years ago (1999-12-10)
Type NGO
Headquarters Seoul, South Korea
Key people
Yu Sae Hee (chairman), Han Ki Hong (president), Kim Young Hwan (head researcher)

The Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (북한민주화네트워크, NKnet) is a registered NGO based in Seoul, South Korea. The organization conducts research on and raises public awareness about North Korea, human rights in North Korea, and Korean unification. It also engages in movement building activities and has helped launch other organizations, most notably the Daily NK.[1]


"To help bring about democracy and respect for human rights in North Korea."[1]


NKnet was founded in Seoul in 1999. Its founders are veterans of South Korea’s democracy movement and most at one time formerly supported North Korea’s Juche ideology. By the mid-1990s, however, those who would go on to found the group, including prominent activist Kim Young Hwan, publicly renounced their support for the North Korean regime in response to increasing evidence of human rights violations in the country.[2][3]


Past activities have included training programs,[4] seminars, photo exhibitions,[5] a speaker series,[6][7] and an international conference on human rights in North Korea co-sponsored with the National Endowment for Democracy in 2010.[8] In 2004, NKnet also launched and later spun off the Daily NK, an online newspaper that has a network of sources within North Korea.[9] The organization also started Radio Free Chosun,[1] which broadcasts to North Korea over shortwave radio.[10] In 2011, NKnet hosted the world’s first annual North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival.[11][12] In September 2012, it hosted its second annual film festival.[13] NKnet is a member of The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK).[14] The organization has also participated in various forums and campaigns including the “Daughter of Tongyeong Rescue Campaign" on behalf of Shin Suk-ja.


NKnet published the magazine Keys quarterly from 2000 to 2005.[2][15] NKnet currently publishes NK Vision each month, a Korean magazine of North Korean news for scholars, reporters and others. Each month NK Vision carries round-table discussions, expert analysis, book reviews, and interviews with scholars, government officials, North Korean refugees, and activists. Past issues have examined in depth the succession of Kim Jung Un, marketization, the Korean Wave (Hallyu)’s reach into North Korea, missile tests and nuclear programs, and the US and ROK elections.[16][17] In 2011, NKnet published a Defector Survey on International Food Aid Distribution, based on interviews with 500 people who had left North Korea. Among other findings, 78% of respondents said they never received international food aid, while 27% of international food aid recipients reported they had to return some or all of the aid to authorities after international monitors left.[18][19][20] In 2012, Intermedia published A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment, a report which featured data gathered by NKnet.[21]


On December 10, 2009, NKnet received the Human Rights Award of Korea from the National Human Rights Commission of Korea for its role in raising awareness of human rights violations in North Korea.[22][23] On December 10, 2012, the South Korean government awarded NKnet head researcher Kim Young Hwan the Order of Civil Merit "for his contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights in commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Earlier that year Kim and three other activists had been arrested in China and held for 114 days. Kim said he was arrested for assisting North Korean refugees in China and that the authorities tortured him during his detention. The Chinese government denied torturing him.[24][25]


The organization's funding has come from the National Endowment for Democracy[4] and through partnering on a project-to-project basis with other organizations and the South Korean Ministry of Unification[12] and Ministry of Public Administration and Security.[26]

Media Coverage[edit]

NKnet’s work has been quoted or mentioned by Korean and international news media including the Chosun Ilbo,[13] Wall Street Journal,[19][27] National Public Radio,[28] New York Times,[29][30] Time,[31] Telegraph,[20] il Post,[32] Le Monde,[33] and Dagens Nyheter.[34]


  1. ^ a b c "Overview". NKnet. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "History of NKnet". NKnet. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ Yang, Jung A (June 2012). "Who Is Kim Young Hwan, a.k.a. "Steel"?". NK Vision. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "NED 2011 Annual Report - North Korea". National Endowment for Democracy. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ 김윤실 (October 27, 2011). 통영의딸 전시회 찾은 시민 "믿기지가 않아요": 27일 인사동 서호 갤러리서 사진 전시회…"사람들 北현실 잘 몰라". Daily NK (in Korean). Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Speaker Series". NKnet. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Seoul series on North Korean rights". Korea Herald. April 18, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ "North Korea's Shifting Political Landscape: Will Succession Provide Opportunities for Expanded Human Rights and Democracy in the Hermit Kingdom? (joint conference)". National Endowment for Democracy. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ Jiyeon Lee; Jethro Mullen (January 16, 2012). "North Korea denies punishing citizens for not mourning enough". CNN. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  10. ^ Donald Kirk. "The Media and North Korea -- Old Styles, Evolving Strategy in the Kim Jong-eun Era". Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (November 3, 2011). "Films probe experimentalism, human rights". Korea Times. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "First-Ever North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival". NKnet. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Film Fest Raises Awareness of Human Rights in N.Korea". Chosun Ilbo. Sep 21, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Member Organizations". International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK). Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Keys". Daily NK. Retrieved July 5, 2013. 
  16. ^ "NK Vision Magazine (English)". NK Vision. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  17. ^ "NK Vision Magazine (Korean)". NK Vision. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Defector Survey on International Food Aid Distribution". NKnet. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Alastair Gale (April 8, 2011). "Recent NK Defectors Confirm Grim Food Situation". Wall Street Journal's Korea Realtime Blog. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Julian Ryall (May 11, 2012). "North Korea 'executes three people found guilty of cannibalism'". Telegraph. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ "A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment". Intermedia. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  22. ^ Kim So Yeol (December 10, 2009). "NKnet Collects ROK Human Rights Award". Daily NK. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  23. ^ 한국인권상 수상 유세희 이사장. Radio Free Asia (in Korean). November 23, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Korean gov't to award medal to prominent activist". Korea Times. Yonhap. December 4, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  25. ^ Choe Sang-hun (July 31, 2012). "South Korea Repeats Call to Investigate Torture Claim". New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2013. 
  26. ^ "2nd North Korean Human Rights International Film Festival". NKnet. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  27. ^ Evan Ramstad (September 21, 2009). "North Korea Razes Unofficial Market". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  28. ^ Anthony Kuhn (December 21, 2011). "North Korea Ups Police Presence After Kim's Death". National Public Radio. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ James Brooke (March 16, 2005). "A little light shines through North Korea's blackout". New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ Choe Sang-hun (September 19, 2009). "North Korea Said to Shut Market in Bid for Control". New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  31. ^ Emily Rauhala (April 12, 2013). "Why the North Korean Crisis Demands a New Diplomatic Approach". Time. Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  32. ^ Elena Zacchetti (April 12, 2013). "L'opposizione in Corea del Nord". il Post (in Italian). Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  33. ^ Philippe Mesmer (April 1, 2013). "La Corée du Nord intensifie ses menaces". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  34. ^ Johan Nylander (April 14, 2013). "Ilska och svält bland nordkoreaner". Dagens Nyheter (DN) (in Swedish). Retrieved August 4, 2013. 

External links[edit]