Appropriations on North Korea (Corrected)

[An earlier version of this post suggested that funds appropriated for broadcasting might be spent on the defector, South Korean, religious or Japanese radio stations that target North Korea. This was incorrect; the post has been corrected to clarify how the money has been allocated.]

Buried in the massive appropriations bill signed by the President were several provisions pertaining specifically to North Korea. First, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State (DRL) has been given the mandate to “establish and maintain a database of prisons and gulags in North Korea, including a list of political prisoners, and such database shall be regularly updated and made publicly available on the Internet, as appropriate.” Roberta Cohen made a succinct and cogent case at the Asan Washington Forum last summer that the prison camps should be made the top human rights priority on the country.

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights has apparently been working on this project for State. The Center maintains a somewhat complex archive organized by both person and event, modeled on the West German archive of East German abuses.

Most work on the prison camps can be traced back to a series of reports initiated by David Hawk’s classic Hidden Gulag for the Committee on Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK, with a second edition in 2013). The innovation of this report was to combine satellite imagery with defector testimony. Hawk’s work has been followed by collaborations between HRNK and DigitalGlobe on particular camps, including on Camps 22 and 25; these and other HRNK publications can be found here. Amnesty International has also been posting analysis of satellite imagery of the camps.

Broadcasting is another area where funds are earmarked (not less than $8,938,000 to be exact). This funding will go to “International Broadcasting Operations” under Title I of the bill, ie. to VOA and RFA.

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