User:Gamnamu/Oh Hae-won

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Gamnamu/Oh Hae-won
Hangul 오혜원
Hanja 吳 彗 源
Revised Romanization Oh Hye-won
McCune–Reischauer Oh Hye-wŏn

Oh Hae-won (also spelled Oh Hye-won; born 17 September 1976) is a South Korean prisoner of North Korea, imprisoned in Yodok concentration camp since the age of 11 with her mother Shin Suk-ja and sister Oh Kyu-won after her father Oh Kil-nam defected from North Korea.[1] Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience and started several campaigns for her release. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations on May 2, 2012 adopted a resolution requesting the immediate release of Oh and her sister.[2]

Early life in Germany[edit]

Oh was born on September 17, 1976 in Kiel as the first of two daughters to Oh Kil-nam and Shin Suk-ja, two South Korean immigrants, who married in Germany four years earlier. Her father Oh Kil-nam graduated in economy, while her mother Shin Suk-ja was working as a nurse in Germany.

Oh lived in Kronshagen near Kiel and attended elementary school until December 1985.[3] Together with her sister Kyu-won she learned to play the violin from Ivan Petrov, the then-conductor of the Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra.[4]

Move to North Korea[edit]

Persuaded by North Korean agents her father Oh Kil-nam decided to go to North Korea and so the whole family arrived in Pyongyang in December 1985. There they were all taken to a nearby military camp for indoctrination for three months. After that her parents were employed for a radio station broadcasting propaganda to South Korea.[5] Oh lived in Pyongyang with her family until at least November 1986.[6]

Detention in Yodok camp[edit]

In 1987, at the age of 11 years, she was deported to Yodok camp with her mother and her sister.[7] This was apparently because her father Oh Kil-nam did not return to North Korea from a mission abroad.[8] She was first held in Daesuk-ri “revolutionizing area” of the camp, a kind of reeducation camp from which prisoners are sometimes released after long sentences.[2] Later the three women were moved to Yodok’s “total control zone”, an area from which inmates are almost never released.[9] Two former prisoners of Yodok camp, Kang Chol-hwan and An Hyuk, testified that Oh and her family were held in Yodok camp at the time of their release.[10]

Her father Oh Kil-nam received several letters from his family through Yun I-sang.[11] In 1991 he got a final letter with six photos and an audio tape. Some of the photos were published[12] and show Oh Hae-won besides her mother and sister.[13] On the audio tape she tells her father "Hi dad, it's Haewon, I dreamt the other day that I was celebrating my birthday with you. I miss you. It's been a while since I said the word father and my tears are falling." [14]

Initiatives for Oh Hae-won’s release[edit]

  • Amnesty International 1994: International Women’s Rights campaign[1]
  • Oh Kil-nam 1994: Letter to Kim Il-sung.[15]
  • Free the NK Gulag (NGO) 2010: Save the Oh Sisters campaign[4]
  • Amnesty International 2011: Write for Rights campaign[9] [16]
  • United Nations Human Rights Council 2012: Resolution demanding her release[2]

Response from the North Korean Government[edit]

The North Korean government did not respond to any of the other campaigns, but on April 27, 2012 provided this official response to the UN Human Rights Council: “The two daughters of Ms. Shin do not regard Oh as their father since he abandoned his family and drove their mother to her death. They strongly refuse to deal with Mr. Oh and ask him not to bother them anymore”. Oh Kil-nam rejected these claims[17] and human rights organizations expressed doubts about them.[18] In October 2012 Marzuki Darusman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea, called on the North Korean government to release Oh Hae-won and her sister.[19]


  1. ^ a b "2.2. Shin Sook Ja and her daughters", North Korea: Summary of Amnesty International's concerns, Amnesty International, 1993, retrieved 2012-05-08 
  2. ^ a b c Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its sixty-third session (PDF), United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, 2012-07-16, retrieved 2012-09-25 
  3. ^ Photos of Shin Suk Ja and Her Daughters, Oh Hye Won and Gyu Won, Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (NKnet), 2011-12-23, retrieved 2012-09-25 
  4. ^ a b "Save Oh Sisters!!". Free the NK Gulag (NGO). Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  5. ^ Harden, Blaine (2010-02-22), "A family and a conscience, destroyed by North Korea's cruelty", Washington Post, retrieved 2012-09-25 
  6. ^ "White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 1996, p. 178" (PDF). The Research Institute for National Unification, February 1996. Retrieved October 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Daughter of Tongyeong " campaign to rescue SHIN Suk-ja and her daughters from DPRK prison camps (PDF), European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, 2010-07-08, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  8. ^ "North Korea: Fear of "disappearance" of Shin Sook Ja (and her daughters), p. 5 - 8". Amnesty International, January 1994. Retrieved September 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b North Korea: Thousands held in secret camps, Amnesty International USA, 2011, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  10. ^ Young Attorney Who Turned to Face North Korea, Daily NK, 2011-11-27, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  11. ^ Daughters of Tongyeong, Shin Sook Ja familys case, Open Radio for North Korea, 2012-06-01, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  12. ^ "Groups gather in Japan to save S. Korean prisoner in N. Korea". The Korea Herald. September 6, 2011. Retrieved 2012-10-19. 
  13. ^ Photos of Shin Suk Ja and Her Daughters, Oh Hye Won and Gyu Won, Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, 2011-11-23, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  14. ^ North Korea defector living with quarter of a century of guilt, CNN, 2012-06-02, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  15. ^ The Surprisingly Long History of the Campaign to Rescue the “Daughter of Tongyeong” Shin Suk Ja and Her Daughters, Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, 2012-01-04, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  16. ^ Briefmarathon 2011 (PDF) (in German), Amnesty International Austria, 2011, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  17. ^ North Reports Death of Shin Suk Ja, Daily NK, 2012-05-08, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  18. ^ North Korea says detainee died of hepatitis, Daily NK, 2012-05-08, retrieved 2012-10-19 
  19. ^ UN Report Maintains Oh Kil Nam Pressure, Daily NK, 2012-10-04, retrieved 2012-10-19 

External links[edit]

Category:Korean people