Violations of North Korean Women’s Human Rights Focus at the UN Commission on the Status of Women


March 14, 2017

New York, NY – The North Korean Freedom Coalition (NKFC) announced today that the grave human rights violations suffered by North Korean women will be addressed at a parallel event for the first time in the history of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW). NKFC Vice Chair Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, commented “Our UN CSW panel will include three eyewitnesses: Lee So-yeon, Lim Hye Jin, and Grace Jo – all women who escaped from North Korea. Each suffered grievous human rights violations as citizens of North Korea, but also as refugees in China, while trying to flee North Korea.”

The details of the UN CSW parallel event are as follows:

North Korean Refugee Women: Destitution and Human Trafficking in China
Friday, March 17, 8:30 a.m.
St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral
Yerevan Hall
630 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10016

“Our coalition strongly believes that the suffering, especially those endured by North Korean women, both as refugees in China but also as citizens in their own country, has not received the appropriate attention in the international community,” said NKFC Chair Suzanne Scholte. “Our panel will also provide expert testimony from Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign USA. Scarlatoiu will disclose how political prison camps in North Korea have been expanded especially to imprison women, most of whom were simply trying to feed their families. Buwalda will outline specific actions that should be taken by the international community to address these human rights violations.”

“Through satellite imagery analysis and escapee testimony, our investigation has revealed the disproportionate repression of women in Kim Jong-un’s North Korea,” stated Scarlatoiu. “Since the days of the great famine over two decades ago, women have assumed primary responsibility for the survival of their families. Thus, it is mostly women who are arrested and imprisoned for alleged wrongdoing at the markets or for leaving North Korea without the regime’s approval.”

“The international community must act with urgency to intervene and save North Korean women from the trafficking and exploitation that these victims suffer,” said Buwalda. “I look forward to providing recommendations about what can be done.”

Immediately following the event, NKFC members will visit the Chinese Mission to the UN at 350 East 35th Street to hand-deliver an appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping calling for China to end its brutal and illegal repatriation policy and to abide by its international treaty obligations.

The event is open to the press and the public and both are invited to attend the letter delivery.

About the Commission on the Status of Women

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is part of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. It meets in New York City every March to promote the advancement of women worldwide and gender equality.

About the NKFC Working Group on North Korean Women

The Working Group is comprised of organizations, human rights activists, and experts dedicated to engaging and educating the international community on the grave human rights abuses suffered by North Korean Women. It was founded by the North Korea Freedom Coalition in 2016. The main goal of the Working Group is to make North Korean Women’s Rights a mainstream issue at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Their first event was hosted at the US Mission to the United Nations in March 2016 and they filed communications on behalf of five North Korean women in the fall of 2016.

The Working Group is co-chaired by NKFC Vice Chair Jason West, Esq. and Nia Emerson, Government Relations and Special Projects Coordinator with the Jubilee Campaign. More information can be found at

Contact Information

For additional information, please contact the NKFC Working Group on North Korean Women Co-Chairs Jason West or Nia Emerson at (202) 770-2500 or by email at


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