America's Role in Promoting Democracy & Human Rights

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A Conversation with Shin Dong-Hyuk - Escaped Prisoner from North Korean Internment Camp 14

Moderated by Christian Caryl - Legatum Institute, Foreign Policy & MIT Center for International Studies

Audio | Photographs  | Quotes  Transcript  |  Video



  • On Whether the United Nations Has Held Accountable North Korea:  “North Korea is a member of the U.N., and through whatever means, the country is trying to enjoy the benefits of being a part of the U.N. and they are trying to get food aid, and food into the country.  However, in my personal opinion, even the U.N. itself has not been able to be more proactive in terms of their interactions with the North Korean regime.” —Mr. Shin Dong-hyuk
  • On Tourist Travel to North Korea:  “Unfortunately, the money spent by tourists to North Korea just goes directly to the coffers of Kim Jong Un and the regime.” —Mr. Shin Dong-hyuk
  • On the Need to Act to Stop Mass Atrocities:  “Yesterday, I had the chance to visit the US Holocaust museum again, and in one of the displays in a big area, there was a wall with one question on it and that question was, “Even when we knew about the existence of the camps, why did we not bomb the camps or the railways that led to them?”  I believe that that question still applies to all of us today, and in the future that question will be very important as well.  Even now, through satellite imagery, we can see and have proof of the prison camps in North Korea, and through the testimonies of other defectors, we hear what is going on in the prison camps.  However, regarding this issue, we tend to not care.  The most important thing, people say, is that there has to be evidence and for those that say there must be evidence, I reply in this way:  when we saw 60 years ago, when countless people were getting killed in genocide, what did we do?  Even 40 years ago in Cambodia, the killing fields with almost 2 million killed, what did we do?  Even as recently as what happened in Kosovo when tens of hundreds of people were killed and displaced, even with evidence, what did we do?” —Mr. Shin Dong-hyuk



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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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