1: Introduction

Author:

This chapter examines changes and constants in North Korean society since the mid-1990s, when the country faced severe famine. In particular, it investigates the rise of the informal market economy – and its subsequent impact on gender roles – and a large exodus of women to China as a consequence of the economic crisis. The chapter situates the North Korean diaspora within the context of globalization and its implications for North Korean refugees and their human rights. It further discusses human rights debates in North Korea and defector human rights activism outside North Korea.

This book examines the human rights abuses suffered by North Korean women and how some of these women are confronting this abuse through their activism. Based on this examination, I argue that – albeit with small numbers and slow progress – such a battle is critical for addressing North Korean women’s human rights. I further argue that tackling women’s rights issues will have a ripple effect on children and men due to overlapping characteristics that affect all North Koreans, together with their interconnected lives.

The economic crisis of the mid-1990s in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) brought some significant changes to the country. The food crisis forced women to take on the role of breadwinner, which challenged the conventional understanding of gender in North Korea and was consistent with the important role that women have played in other countries during times of famine (see Kinealy et al, 2016). This crisis also led to the exodus of many ordinary people to China, South Korea and Western countries, such as the UK, to find food and better lives; the majority of those who left were women: nearly 75 per cent of North Koreans who entered China (CRS, 2007) and 84.2 per cent who fled to South Korea (Ministry of Unification, 2022). However, despite these seemingly profound shifts in North Korean society (because of the famine and subsequent changes in the role of women as breadwinners), many would say that the human rights situation in the DPRK has not improved. Women’s human rights remain a serious concern that requires urgent and weighty action from powerful global actors and states. It is in this context that this book has been written.

When I started my research on North Korean defectors1 and their human rights activism in 2016, the gendered dimension emerged as a striking feature: women were shouldering the burden of feeding their families as well as being subjected to various forms of gender-based exploitation and violence. This led me to change the focus of my research to women and their lived experiences. It has not always been an easy journey for me because the majority of women understandably do not want to talk about their harrowing experiences. As I delved into North Korean defectors’ human rights activism in the UK, including women’s, I also realized that only a few individuals were involved in this activism. While there are numerous North Korean human rights activist networks outside the DPRK, based in South Korea, the US and the UK, for example, only a small number of these activists are targeting the women’s rights agenda. As much as women’s human rights require urgent attention, for women activists working for this cause, it is a taxing battle.

For strategic reasons discussed in Chapter 4, North Korean women’s activism in the UK is not directly associated with an organization, unlike most DPRK human rights activism elsewhere. Instead, it is led by a woman defector who has become a prominent activist, using her personal experiences of human rights violations in China and the DPRK, with the help of a handful of other women refugees who have undergone similar exploitation. In this respect, it is not a recognizable network tied to an institutional setting in a conventional sense. Nevertheless, this does not render the activism insignificant. In fact, my argument is that these women’s activism is critical in addressing North Korean women’s human rights. Borrowing from Crozier-De Rosa and Mackie (2019), I even propose that they are in the process of making history.

I am not suggesting this in the sense that these activists will all of a sudden transform North Korean women’s lives by winning secure protection of their fundamental rights. Rather, I am arguing that, without a fight, one cannot challenge injustice and that the path they have embarked upon is a vital step towards transforming the seemingly impossible into an achievable goal. As proven so far, the Northern regime has not been altered significantly since the inception of Kim Jong Un. Despite continual endeavours by human rights activist organizations and individuals, North Korean human rights issues remain grave concerns. Given this, it will be a long-term struggle to bring meaningful change to the country’s handling of human rights, as indicated by my participants.

There is a dearth of published material on the DPRK’s human rights activism, let alone women’s activism, except for Song (2017) and Yeo and Chubb (2019). While these works have made salient contributions to shedding light on this poorly understood field, the voices of individuals are largely missing. This has created a serious gap in the area, especially the absence of women’s voices. It is critical to take on women’s views because they play a vital role in all aspects of North Korean society at the most basic level; it is largely women who become involved in entrepreneurial activities during times of poverty to save their families. This has significant social, economic and political implications for the future of the DPRK. Overlooking women’s voices would mean a lost opportunity to gain an extremely valuable insight into North Korean society and women’s activism. Unlike the above mentioned publications, my book is built on phenomenology, which places the voices of women defectors at the centre. This throws light on their inner worlds and subjective perspectives rooted in their lived experiences.

I aim to achieve four objectives in this book. Firstly, I seek to elucidate human rights abuses against North Korean women through critical and in-depth analyses of their narratives of lived experiences inside and outside the DPRK. While there is already a body of publications that has documented this issue, my work is an addition to this and it offers the critical perspective of women, which until now has been overlooked. I bring together disaggregated information using a circular framework to critically discuss the maltreatment experienced by North Korean women, linking it to relevant laws and feminist arguments, as well as adding new testimonies.

Secondly, developing from this, I explore the personal accounts of North Korean women defectors on their journey to becoming human rights activists, fighting against the regime to reclaim women’s (and children’s and men’s) rights. Their narratives highlight the barriers and setbacks they face as well as the strategies they adopt to offset such obstacles. However, most importantly, I aim to illuminate the vitality of women’s rights protection, not only for individuals but also for the future of North Korea, considering the critical role that women have played since the collapse of its economy in the 1990s.

Thirdly, I seek to contribute to methodological debates by using a phenomenological lens and exploring the challenges arising from studying the experiences of North Korean women defectors. Fourthly, I intend to fill the gap by developing a theoretical concept, Altruistic Political Imagination (API), founded on the narratives of these activists about their motivators for activism. API refers to imagination that arises in association with politics and political movement in the interests of others, and it envisions a better future for a particular society or community. This act of imagining better future lives for other people becomes the principal driver of individual and/or collective action that is directed towards achieving the imagined outcomes for the benefit of others (and the self).

I begin the next section by presenting changes and constants in North Korea since the mid-1990s. In the following section, I examine the discourse and treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in recent years in order to situate North Korean defectors’ experiences in a broader global context. The stories of North Korean refugees and asylum seekers are in some ways consistent with those of people from other nation-states who have been forced to leave their countries for survival. However, North Korea embodies a unique status as a totalitarian state that has removed the fundamental right of people to move freely, through the criminalization of those who leave the country without permission (Lee et al, 2020). In particular, women face distinctive challenges as a result of the intersection between push and pull factors in the DPRK and China. This requires the consideration of specific justice issues pertaining to North Korean women refugees, which is the focus of the ensuing section. Following this, I examine DPRK human rights debates. Next, I discuss North Korean women’s human rights activism, starting with conceptualizations of the term, ‘activism’. In the final section, I provide a brief outline of the book.

The DPRK since 1994

Since 1994, North Korea has undergone transitions in its leadership from Kim Jong Il (1994–2011) to Kim Jong Un (since 2011), following the death of the former. This period has also been marked by severe famine and economic crisis, which has driven the rise of the informal economy. Researchers trace the origins of the DRPK’s economic problems to multiple developments in the late 1980s and its heavy reliance on external aid from the Soviet Union, despite its Juche2 ideology and proclamation of self-reliance as its central pillar (Noland, 2003; Green, 2016). Noland (2003) suggests that the North Korean regime implemented numerous agricultural policies around 1987 that caused harmful effects in farming and diminished land capacity through the overuse of chemical fertilizers, continual cropping and the exploitation of hillsides, which led to devastating floods. Compounding this issue was the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, which created a shock wave across North Korea’s economy as the Union accounted for over 50 per cent of its trade, with most of its coal, refined oil and steel supplied by the Soviets (Joo, 2010; Dukalskis, 2016). The death of Kim Il Sung on 8 July 1994 was another possible contributing factor, causing a nationwide panic that destabilized the already fragile and failing system (Greenhill, 2016; Green, 2016). Fahy (2019) claims that the main culprit for the 1990s’ famine lies in the government’s policies, which prioritized ideological programmes over providing food security for its people.

These multifaceted factors caused the collapse of the Public Distribution System (PDS), which drove the emergence of the shadow economy (Dukalskis, 2016) or marketization from below (Haggard and Noland, 2012), and this has continued up until today. To secure basic sustenance, households and other social units, such as military and local party agencies, became involved in entrepreneurial activities, and these have become the main source of food and income since 1993. This informal economy generated significant social changes and resulted in increasing inequality and rampant corruption (Haggard and Noland, 2012). More importantly, the rise of marketization triggered changes in gender roles as women became the main breadwinners (Kang, 2008). This transition in the female role brought modifications in gender policies, social relations and people’s perceptions of women (Park, 2011; Cho et al, 2020). Additionally, women’s voices became stronger, and their value systems began to change, as they developed the desire for freedom and independence from the state through their market activities. This has been demonstrated in some women’s initiation of divorce from unhappy marriages (Cho et al, 2020).

Reflecting both these changes and international pressures, the DPRK enacted the Women’s Rights Act in 2010 (Hosaniak, 2013). Although this might have had some symbolic significance in potentially inducing behavioural changes in women’s lives, in reality it has failed to produce mould-breaking effects. In fact, many of the policies are incongruous with the notion of rights and freedoms, with women continuously facing sexist norms and unequal gender relations (Jung and Dalton, 2006; Yang, 2018; Cho et al, 2020). Furthermore, shifts in gender relations have taken place unevenly across the country, with the most substantial changes occurring in the regions bordering China, such as North Hamgyong and Ryanggang Provinces, due to the considerable economic transitions in these areas (Schwekendiek and Mercier, 2016). The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR, 2019) similarly finds continuing discrepancies in the standard of living between provinces, as well as between urban and rural regions in North Korea.

Congruent with the link between gender and regional disparities found in the DPRK, urban areas across the Global South have experienced the feminization of populations due to increasing numbers of women migrating to cities for work and marriage (Chant, 2013). However, despite this feminization and the allure of freedom in urban communities, gender inequalities in the types of employment, renumeration and access to physical space continue, creating substantial barriers for women seeking to benefit from urban prosperity (Chant, 2013; United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), 2013). In the same vein, some benefits have been offered to North Korean women – especially those of the upper-middle class – in urban areas, such as Pyongyang, with access to high-ends goods from other countries, for example China and South Korea. Alongside this, these women – when compared to their rural counterparts – are experiencing more freedom to seek marriages based on love rather than being arranged (Cho et al, 2020). In addition, more opportunities (for instance, to cross borders to other nation-states and/or to accumulate money) have been available to women in the regions close to China through their participation in market activities, as noted by Schwekendiek and Mercier (2016). However, such changes in a few women’s lives have not led to the subversion of the DPRK’s deeply entrenched gender structure, and women still face a wide array of discrimination (Eom and Kim, 2016; Cho et al, 2020).

Along with debates over these social and cultural changes, some scholars have argued that there have been changes in the political economy since the reign of Kim Jong Un began, through the re-emphasis on economic development to improve people’s livelihoods. This is reflected in the shift in 2013 from the military-first Songun policy to the Byungjin policy, which entails the parallel development of both military and economic sectors (Cathcart et al, 2017). However, such claims are disputable, as observed by Yeo (2021) in his examination of the development of the informal market and its implications for economic and social change in North Korea. According to Yeo, there are two different schools of thought regarding the relationship between the DPRK state and the market. From one perspective, the state continues its control over the market through ‘rent’ collected from market traders and crackdowns on the new moneyed class, called donju.3 On the other hand, another school contends that a gradual diffusion of power from the state to society is taking place, thanks to informal social networks established in the market, which empower ordinary people. However, empirical data analysed by Yeo (2021) suggests no evidence for social change so far, with the state continuing to maintain a tight grip on people’s lives.

This is echoed by Green and Denney (2017), who argue that there have been no profound or substantive changes in North Korean politics, despite the introduction of such policy reforms. The vulnerability of the regime, which was established on the hereditary inheritance of power and its dictatorial rule depends heavily on the military for its own survival (S. Cho, 2020). Hence, the principle of Songun remains a dominant doctrine in policy making (Denney et al, 2017). At the same time, economic development is essentially centred on the protection of the Kim family’s power, rather than on the aim of improving the wider economy. This is exemplified by the existence of the relatively productive ‘Royal Court Economy’4 that funds the private interests of the dynasty and its elite class through mostly ‘illicit’ economic activities, which is kept separate from the failing civilian economy (Kim, 2011; Green and Denney, 2017). Consistent with these moves, the regime continues to rely on the revised historical narratives of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, ‘the new blend of “Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism”’, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, rather than taking an autonomous stance free from the past (Cathcart, 2017, p 9). Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism refers to a revolutionary ideology, founded by Kim Il Sung and further developed by him and his son Kim Jong Il. The concept of Juche forms the central pillar of Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, supported by the concept of Songun that gives importance to the military ‘as the hardcore force’ in protecting independence and socialism (Korean Association of Social Scientists, 2016, p 7).

To implement the Juche ideology, the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System that govern the everyday lives of the North Korean people were officially announced by Kim Jong Il in 1974. These Ten Principles are as follows (Collins, 2017, pp 3–4):

  1. 1.Struggle with all your life to paint the entire society with the one colour of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary thought.
  2. 2.Respect and revere highly and with loyalty the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.
  3. 3.Make absolute the authority of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.
  4. 4.Accept the Great Leader Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary thought as your belief and take the Great Leader’s instructions as your creed.
  5. 5.Observe absolutely the principle of unconditional execution in carrying out the instructions of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.
  6. 6.Rally the unity of ideological intellect and revolutionary solidarity around the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.
  7. 7.Learn from the Great Leader Kim Il Sung and master communist dignity, the methods of revolutionary projects, and the people’s work styles.
  8. 8.Preserve dearly the political life the Great Leader Kim Il Sung has bestowed upon you, and repay loyally for the Great Leader’s boundless political trust and considerations with high political awareness and skill.
  9. 9.Establish a strong organizational discipline so that the entire Party, the entire people, and the entire military will operate uniformly under the sole leadership of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.
  10. 10.The great revolutionary accomplishments pioneered by the Great Leader Kim Il Sung must be succeeded and perfected by hereditary successions until the end.

It is compulsory for every North Korean to study and memorize the Ten Principles, to apply them in their everyday lives and to evaluate themselves in terms of whether or not they have been living up to the Principles at weekly self-criticism sessions (Collins, 2017).

In a more recent debate, Kim and Jang (2021) suggest that a newly emerging ideology has been developing since 2021, called Kim-Jong-Un-ism, although they predict that this ‘new’ ideology will not diverge much from the central principles of Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism that have guided the current regime. Supporting this view, the government proclaimed at the 8th Party Congress held in January 2021 that ‘the WPK (The Workers’ Party of Korea) is a party that upholds the ideology of Kim-il-sung-Kim-jong-il-ism’ and ‘the WPK considers Kim-il-sung-Kim-jong-il-ism to be the only guiding ideology’ (Kim and Jang, 2021, p 2).

Adding to this, Kim Jong Un publicly announced another economic crisis and ‘Arduous March’ at a ruling WPK conference in April 2021 (Yoon, 2021). However, Joung (2021), drawing on an analysis of the DPRK’s Voluntary National Reviews (VNR)5 report, proposes that North Korea’s food situation in 2020 was relatively stable, contradicting Kim’s claims of ‘food anxiety’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. This might be an indication that Kim’s regime is exploiting the pandemic to regain its control over people’s lives, which has been weakened via the rise of the informal economy and the infiltration of foreign products, by completely blocking the borders and stopping the permeation of outside information (Yoon, 2021).

In contrast to Joung’s suggestion, however, the World Food Programme (2019) revealed that more than 10 million North Koreans (40 per cent of the population) were food insecure and in urgent need of assistance. With few international allies, North Korea previously looked to China for support during times of economic crisis and was provided with enormous food assistance from Beijing during 2019–20. However, in 2021, climatic disasters, rising prices and border restrictions limited this aid, aggravating food scarcity in the DPRK (WFP, 2021).

Consistent with this, the report by the UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the DPRK (Quintana, 2022) raises serious concerns about worsening human rights conditions under the elevated isolation of the state since 2020. One of the major issues is gaining access to essential items, such as food, due to tightened border controls, which have ravaged the market activity that is a vital channel for accessing such necessities. Alongside this, the policy is now to shoot any border-crossers, and the Law on the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture established in December 2020 allows unjustifiably harsh punishment, for example, the death penalty, for those who access foreign information (Quintana, 2022). On the basis of these, it is arguable that the much-anticipated changes under Kim Jong Un have not materialized; despite some suggestions of modifications, the regime’s totalitarian grip remains firm, supported by the highly bureaucratized Korean Workers’ Party and Organization & Guidance Department (Collins, 2019).

The economic crisis led many people to flee North Korea in search of food and money as a result of the failure of the PDS and severe food shortages, as noted at the beginning of this chapter. Those who have crossed the borders to China are largely women, due to a constellation of reasons founded on the patriarchal structure: married women were dropped from state enterprises, unlike men who saw a steady decrease in their employment (see Chapter 3 for further discussion); men were more systematically controlled and monitored due to their public roles as employees; and the enforcement of illegality for absence from work was applied less strictly to women than to men (Haggard and Noland, 2012; Lankov and Kim, 2014). These loopholes enabled many women to leave the country clandestinely (Park, 2011).

In addition, other possible contributing factors to the feminization of defection are the DPRK’s Military-First Policy, which conscripts more men for longer service duration, in combination with the legalization of small private enterprises that has enabled women to amass capital, allowing greater opportunities for cross-border mobility (Sung and Cho, 2018). In tandem with this, there is high demand for North Korean women as brides in China among unmarried rural Chinese men. This is due to the lopsided gender ratio as a consequence of China’s historic one-child policy and young women’s migration to urban areas to find work. There is also a broader demand in the Chinese sex industry (Robinson, 2019). Hence, North Korean women’s vulnerable circumstances, rooted in their desperate need for survival and illegal status, have become a major cause of exploitation by human traffickers and smugglers, consistent with the experiences of women from other countries and those of forced migrants.

Refugees and asylum seekers in the global context

Hostile treatment of forced migrants

In recent years, we have witnessed a global refugee catastrophe as a result of high levels of ‘social expulsion, especially in the Global South’ (Sassen, 2014, p 63), caused by civil wars, food insecurity, ethnic cleansing and environmental disasters. Global displacement has risen significantly over the past 50 years (Fransen and De Hass, 2022), and a record high number of 89.3 million people were forcefully displaced worldwide at the end of 2021 due to ‘persecution, conflict, violence, [and] human rights violations’ (UNHCR, 2022, p 5). The majority of refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries with emerging economies (UNHCR, 2021–22). Notwithstanding this general trend, the main reasons why countries in Northern or Western Europe have attracted forced migrants and have been the focus of the mass media are because these are the geographically closest well-off regions that are also relatively safe and accessible from the Middle East and Africa. Moreover, some European countries, such as Germany, have a reputation for welcoming asylum seekers and providing support for them to become settled in their new homes (Kaplow, 2015).

However, accompanying the rise of globally displaced persons has been the hostile treatment they have received in Western and East Asian countries with advanced economies (Seol and Skrentny, 2009; Berry et al, 2015; Amnesty, 2018; Sheller, 2018). This antagonism is also reflected in the negative depiction of refugees in the media as victims and/or threats (Berry et al, 2015; Smets et al, 2019; Norwegian Refugee Council, 2022) and as ‘the unwanted invader’ (Parker, 2015, p 1), sending out misinformation as well as creating misperceptions among the public (Amnesty, 2018; d’Haenens and Joris, 2019). In tune with these, Kotef (2015, p 10) argues that the ‘government of mobility’ is a central facet of globalization, in lieu of a ‘simple openness of borders’. According to Kotef, the construction of the liberal subject, who is epitomized by freedom of movement, coincides with the creation of the ‘threatening’ subject, whose movement is restricted and controlled. While refugee issues have dominated many European news headlines in a sensational manner, being presented as a ‘crisis’ in recent years, refugees themselves have largely been invisible, objectified and dehumanized in mainstream media. Based on their content analysis of European media discourse around asylum seekers and refugees, Berry et al (2015) report a highly negative depiction of these people, through the use of such terms as ‘bogus’, ‘illegals’, ‘irregulars’ and ‘a tidal wave’, as though they are threatening natural forces moving en masse. Such a negative and incorrect representation by the media is particularly palpable in the UK and Spain, with the former often linking them to dishonest behaviour and/or presenting them as a burden or drain on public resources and social welfare (Berry et al, 2015).

However, the threat of refugees flooding into developed countries is an immensely disproportionate misrepresentation. According to mid-2021 data (2021–22) from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 85 per cent of refugees are taken by developing countries, and the least developed countries provide asylum to 27 per cent of the world’s total refugees. The same data also identifies four of the top five destination countries, which host 35 per cent of refugees, as having either developing or least developed status (the fifth state being Germany), with Turkey at the top, followed by Columbia, Uganda and Pakistan in descending order.

Along with this skewed representation, refugee movements in parts of the world outside Europe have been mostly overlooked. As outlined by the UNHCR (2022b), there are large numbers of refugees moving between Syria and the neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan; between Afghanistan and Pakistan; between Myanmar and Bangladesh; and between North Korea and China. This clearly indicates that the negative discourse around asylum seekers and refugees in developed Western states is a social and political construct that spuriously represents the reality without sufficient supporting evidence. Marfleet (2006) traces the exclusionary regime of forced migrants from the publication of alarmist writings, such as Kaplan’s (1994) ‘The coming anarchy’. Founded on his prediction of an inundation of refugees to the US from poorer countries in the 1980s and 1990s, Kaplan proposes their containment ‘within the zones of crisis’. Marfleet additionally identifies Huntington’s (1993, 1997) ‘Clash of civilisations’, which forewarns of conflict between non-Western states (for example, China and Islamic nations) and Western Europe, and which gained wide currency among European politicians and Eurocrats. According to Marfleet (2006), by the mid-1990s this had led to the formation of antagonistic governmentality towards migrants from countries that are seen as failing to achieve neoliberal economic development and/or as security threats to Western nation-states.

However, notwithstanding commonly-held assumptions around the negative attitudes of developed Western countries, hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers is equally prevalent in countries outside these nation-states (Alrababa’h et al, 2021). For instance, as the number of Syrian refugees increased, public opinion in Turkey became less welcoming, with some people seeing them as competitors for scarce resources (De Coninck et al, 2021), but more as security and terrorist threats (Getmansky, 2021). Much the same is also seen in the treatment of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh (HRW, 2022).

Antagonistic attitudes towards asylum seekers and refugees, together with poor records of accepting them, are also commonly identified in wealthy East Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea (Seol and Skrentny, 2009; Amnesty, 2018; Lee and Slavney, 2021; Rashid, 2021; NRC, 2022). According to Domínguez (2014), East Asian nation-states have restrictionist immigration and refugee policies and have adopted a narrow definition of refugees, while setting a high benchmark for recognizing applicants as ‘true’ asylum seekers. Japan, for example, has the overall lowest recognition rate of refugees of all developed countries: despite being the third richest country in the world, it has only accepted a total of 1,107 refugees, equivalent to 0.001 per cent of its population, over the last decade (NRC, 2022).

By the same token, the Republic of Korea (ROK) had recognized as refugees or had granted humanitarian status to a total of only 3,452 persons (excluding North Koreans) as of 30 November 2020 (UNHCR, 2021). Seol and Skrentny (2009) identify one of the possible causes of this as an inward-looking ‘developmental state’ that prioritizes economic growth over rights, and the protection of domestic labour markets. In addition, hard-to-navigate bureaucracy and inadequate legal systems operate as deterrents to asylum seekers attempting to pursue the administrative process to gain refugee status (Seol and Skrentny, 2009; Domínguez, 2014). On top of this, unlike in Europe, there is no regional institution in Asia that pushes these countries to implement humanitarian policies (Domínguez, 2014). Moreover, consistent with Western countries, Islamophobia and fear of Muslims as potential terrorists have influenced the negative media discourse and governmental responses towards asylum seekers from Middle Eastern and African countries, as illuminated by strong opposition towards the 550 Yemenis who arrived in Jeju Island, South Korea in 2018 (Amnesty, 2018; Haas, 2018; Kwon, 2019; Lee and Slavney, 2021).

Everyday bordering

Reflecting such hostility and mistrust, border controls for refugees and asylum seekers have been tightened by Western states (Betts, 2013; Hansen, 2014; Sassen, 2014; Fontanari and Ambrosini, 2018; Seller, 2018; Cassidy, 2019, 2020; Yuval-Davis et al, 2019; Irgil, 2022; Walsh et al, 2022). This is paradoxical considering the concurrent increase in economic liberalization through the international operation of large corporations and relatively free movement of finance (Sassen, 2014). Sheller (2018) criticizes the way in which the fundamental principles of equality and justice have been violated through the downright inequality of border-crossings and flagrant exclusionary practices based on race, gender and class. For Balibar and Williams (2002, p 71), borders signify multiple meanings and modes beyond ‘the outer limit of territories’. Additionally, rather than being marginal, borders have become the centre of the public sphere, penetrating everywhere from cities where those with citizenship co-exist with those who do not, and zones where extreme prosperity meets extreme poverty. Consistent with Balibar and Williams (2002), Yuval-Davis et al (2019) argue that borders and bordering have become praxes permeating every sphere of social, economic and political life as central controlling mechanisms that create social stratifications through their exclusionary practices beyond the ‘conventional’ sense associated with the geographical boundaries of nation-states:

Instead of being found at the edge, separating and connecting one state to another, borders have now spread so as to be everywhere. Airports, train stations, even places of work, worship, and living can be borders. Borders can be situated in embassies as well as at the heart of metropolitan cities. Any place has become a borderland; and borderlands can no longer be determined exclusively in relation to specific territories and states. (Yuval-Davis et al, 2019, p 17)

Thus, everyday bordering affects not only migrants but also individuals within society through public reporting and strengthened police powers to check people’s immigration status and detain them. Yuval-Davis et al (2019) further elucidate the implications of living in the grey zones – in which asylum seekers must wait for their decision without the rights to work or fully engage in social life – for people’s health and their ability to plan for the future. The ongoing precarity, accompanied by uncertainty and transience, stemming from temporary living arrangements, detention and the threat of deportation, unsurprisingly causes anxiety as well as having serious implications for physical and mental health.

This quotidian feature of bordering also resonates with the experiences of North Korean refugees in China, who are not even deemed to be refugees by the Chinese state, but rather illegal migrants, as will be discussed in Chapter 3. The state of insecurity and fear does not disappear once they manage to cross the border into China, often using dangerous methods; in reality, such precarity persists or even becomes aggravated by the continual threat of being caught by the Chinese police and forcefully deported back to the DPRK.

Consonant with the experiences of refugees and North Korean women border-crossers, transgressing a border does not equate with the transition from one identity to a different one. Rather than a symbol of rigid division, the borderline operates as a fluid space ‘in which differences oscillate, collide, process’ (Raunig, 2007, p 253). In this sense, North Korean women do not undergo a seamlessly linear shift in their identity; they retain their multiple subjectivities, and their precarious circumstances continue to profoundly affect their lives in China and other countries.

Gendered and racialized bordering

While antagonism and insecurity affect all forced migrants, differential treatment and modes along lines of gender and ‘race’/ethnicity characterize the experiences of many refugees. Thus, it is important to examine the interconnected relationships between migration, borders and social categories, as proposed by Hegde (2021). Stratified social systems and structures operate in tandem with hostile border regimes that control raced and gendered bodies. Through this working relationship, the exertion of power and policing at the border reinforces and consolidates existing systems of racial and sexual discrimination (Hegde, 2021, p 1670). In a similar fashion, Holzberg et al (2021) point out the growing intensification of racialized border regimes. These researchers argue that bordering regimes have become hotbeds for sexual violence, in contrast to the depiction of borders as defence against such harms and dangers from foreigners. In reality, sexual violence forms part of border control: for instance, guards may offer help in immigration cases in return for sexual favours from female migrants, and the constant threats of deportation hinder women from reporting the violence they have experienced (Freedman, 2016).

In conjunction with this, Freedman (2016) demonstrates that female refugees experience gender-based violence both in their home countries and during their journeys to other countries, from smugglers and traffickers, male refugees and border guards, as well as their own male partners. Freedman additionally notes the pernicious impact of increasing restrictions on entry into the EU and the prospect of closed borders, which intensify women’s vulnerability to violence at the hands of smugglers and the demand for sex in exchange for passage. This kind of ‘extreme bordering’ is echoed in the findings of Mai et al (2021, p 1608), who studied the targeting of female migrant sex workers under the banner of ‘sexual humanitarianism’, which deploys repressive and racialized bordering techniques in neoliberal contexts. Mai et al argue that, under this approach, certain groups of migrants are problematized and interceded upon by humanitarian organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), based on the assumed vulnerabilities of these people. These work together with neo-abolitionist policies targeting the removal of all sex work, which translate into detrimental policies exacerbating the exploitation and deportation of migrants, especially women.

Resonating with these studies, the experiences of North Korean female refugees who enter China are directly shaped by their ethnicity and gender, with both push and pull factors forcing them to cross the borders. The highly sexist social system in the DPRK has created a loophole for women, enabling them to evade state surveillance and to maximize their gendered opportunities for survival, along with demands from China for cheap brides, domestic maids and sex workers. While North Korean women provide vital means for the survival of not only their families but also the DPRK’s economic and political system, as well as low-cost labour and solutions for social issues caused by China’s skewed gender ratios, they have become the unfair targets of policing and state control.

Mbembe (2003) argues that necropolitics (the politics of death) characterizes a key technique of governance in post-colonial nation-states, and points out the inadequacy of Foucault’s (1979) notion of biopower through which modern states exercise power over the sphere of life. Hence, for Mbembe, sovereignty is closely interwoven with the exercise of the power to kill, the power to determine who lives and who dies. Wright (2011) similarly suggests that the Foucauldian sense of biopolitics, which controls the bodies of the population, works in combination with necropolitics, because the protection of the lives of certain parts of the population is justified by the deaths of others.

Drawing on the Mexican state’s responsibility for the deaths of ‘public women’ who were involved in prostitution, Wright (2011) sharply criticizes the implicit yet significant role of the Mexican government in causing these deaths by diverting the blame onto the women themselves. I argue that necropolitics also constitutes a critical aspect of the controlling techniques in North Korea; the murders committed by the state and the potential threat of such deaths are crucial for the Kim family in retaining a full grip on its people. Death in this milieu implies not just the annihilation of a physical body but also symbolic death, the social death of certain individuals and their families through the denunciation of their crimes and the stripping of any opportunities in life that lasts for generations, as embodied in the Songbun6 system and Yeonjwaje,7 similar to ‘slave life’ – ‘a form of death-in-life’ (Mbembe, 2003, p 21).

Necropolitics extends to those women who are forcefully returned to the DPRK while carrying a child whose father is not a North Korean. In this sense, the gendered and racialized bordering permeates not only the receiving state, which excludes and discriminates against women from other cultures and states, but also the exit regime, which controls the ‘racial’ purity of the nation by killing babies and foetuses carried by North Korean female returnees. In the eyes of the regime, these pregnant women embody the transgression of ‘racial’ boundaries through the act of mixing their blood with that of Chinese men, tainting their racial purity as one nation. At the same time, the Chinese government’s forcible repatriation of North Korean women and its refusal to recognize their children born through such ‘racial’/ethnic mixing clearly demonstrates the percolation of gendered and racialized bordering in China as an exclusionary and stratifying praxis. As discussed in Chapters 3 and 4, this discriminatory practice of controlling North Korean female refugees has significant ramifications for those who have children in China (children who are effectively stateless subjects); for instance, leaving them behind without adequate carers or state support if they are deported back to the DPRK.8 This begs an urgent question of human rights and justice for these children.

Justice for North Korean female forced migrants

China treats all undocumented North Koreans as illegal economic migrants and not as refugees, thus claiming that they are not qualified for protection under the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees (Charny, 2004; Muico, 2005; Congressional Research Service (CRS), 2007; Aldrich, 2011). Despite being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, together with being a member of the Executive Committee of the Office of the UNHCR (Charny, 2004), China has violated its obligations in numerous ways, such as North Korean defectors’ rights to access courts and freedom of movement (Aldrich, 2011). Consistent with this, China’s treatment of North Korean border-crossers has been harsh, forcibly sending them back to the DPRK since the sharp rise in those entering China ‘illegally’ during the late 1990s, having abandoned its generally tolerant approach towards North Koreans in its territory (Eom and Kim, 2016). However, China claims that its treatment of North Koreans is justified, based on bilateral treaties with the DPRK that lay the foundations for China to deport any ‘illegitimate’ North Korean migrants back to the North (Charny, 2004). But, as stated by Muico (2005), China has violated a bilateral agreement with the UNHCR, signed in 1995, that establishes the former’s obligation to provide international and humanitarian protection to all refugees in its territory, as well as unhindered access for UNHCR staff to refugees at all times, through its repeated refusal to honour either of these duties.

In contrast to its insular foreign policy prior to the late 1990s, China has since developed ‘a more sophisticated, coherent, and internationalist foreign policy’ as it has undergone transformations in its economy and relations with other nation-states (Kurlantzick and Mason 2006, p 34). As a result, it allows asylum seekers of all nationalities to seek refugee status in China by openly approaching UNHCR offices in China (Kurlantzick and Mason, 2006). However, North Koreans are explicitly excluded from this, stemming from the aforementioned special bilateral agreements between the two countries, as well as China’s concerns about the repercussions of any political instability in the DPRK on China (CRS, 2007).

The 1951 UN Convention defines a refugee:

As a person who owing to a well-found fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

The Refugee Convention therefore clearly articulates its principle against refoulment by never sending back those whose lives would be threatened on their return to their exit country. However, the definition created to support displaced people in post-war Europe by focusing on persecution is not appropriate to protect today’s refugees and asylum seekers who flee their nation-states owing to other factors, such as food insecurity and environmental crisis (Betts, 2013; Sheller, 2018). Compared to its notion of refugees, the UNHCR glossary (n.d.) defines an economic migrant as someone who moves to another country ‘purely for economic reasons unrelated to the refugee definition, or in order to seek material improvements in their livelihood’. Should they elect to return home, they would ‘continue to receive the protection of their government’ (UNHCR, 2016).

Following this definition, North Korean women escapees can be more accurately characterized as forced migrants (Muico, 2005). As discussed earlier, the exodus of many North Korean women was caused by the famine and economic crisis, which forced them to leave their country in search of food for survival. Moreover, based on the UNHCR’s delineation, economic migrants should receive protection from their own government on their return. However, far from receiving protection, any border-crossing by North Koreans without government permission is a crime and those who return become subject to varying degrees of punishment.

This criminalization of unauthorized exit of any citizens by the DPRK government provides a justification for North Koreans in China to be protected under the UN Convention, founded on their status as refugees sur place (Charny, 2004; Muico, 2005; Aldrich, 2011). In other words, even if they did not meet the Convention’s categorization of refugee status when they left the DPRK, they have genuine grounds for fear of persecution from the regime if they return, and thus should be provided with appropriate protection as refugees sur place. Nonetheless, the prospect of this remains bleak. As suggested by Lankov (2004), granting refugee status to North Koreans will have two significant ramifications for China: it will be more financially costly because the Chinese government will have to provide some form of aid; and if China treats them as refugees, this will be likely to encourage more defection from North Korea and thus destabilize the regime and regional politics.

This potentiality of mass migration to act as a destabilizing effect is echoed by Greenhill (2016), who provides an insightful account of how activists and NGOs working for human rights attempted to deploy the mass migration of North Korean people into neighbouring countries as a means to bring down the DPRK state; a standpoint supported by President George W. Bush in 2003. However, according to Greenhill (2016), such attempts failed due to opposition from both China and South Korea, who were extremely concerned about the unsettling and costly impact of the Northern regime’s collapse and a large influx of migrants from the DPRK. As argued by Lankov (2004) and other scholars (Linantud and Beatty, 2011; Shulong, 2015; Frank, 2016), national security and geopolitical power struggles take priority over North Korean human rights, thus hindering progress in tackling the issue.

The inadequacy of international society’s measures to protect many forcibly displaced people is captured in the concept of ‘survival migration’ proposed by Betts (2013, p 5), which refers to:

People who are outside their country of origin because of an existential threat for which they have no access to a domestic remedy or resolution … It is based on the recognition that what matters is not privileging particular causes of movement but rather clearly identifying a threshold of fundamental rights which, when unavailable in a country of origin, requires that the international community allow people to cross an international border and receive access to temporary or permanent sanctuary. Refugees are one type of survival migration, but many people who are not recognised as refugees also fall within the category.

Betts uses North Korea as an example of a dictatorial state that simply denies the basic human rights of its citizens. International states’ failure to provide basic security for displaced North Korean people in China resonates with the deficiency of the 1951 Convention because many North Koreans have fled the country due to reasons that are not directly related to persecution. The urgent need for collective action to protect forcibly displaced people is also echoed in the writing of Butler (2004, pp 17–18):

Our collective responsibility not merely as a nation, but as part of an international community based on a commitment to equality and non-violent cooperation, requires that we ask how these conditions came about, and endeavor to re-create social and political conditions on more sustaining grounds. This means, hearing beyond what we are able to hear.

In a similar fashion, Sheller (2018, p 1) argues for mobility justice as ‘one of the crucial political and ethical issues of our day’. Thus, justice debates over North Korean human rights are vital.

DPRK human rights debates

Human rights, as upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, form a relatively new concept that was established after the Second World War to prevent a repetition of atrocities committed by groups such as the Nazis. The UN (1987) defines human rights as:

Those rights, which are inherent in our nature and without which we cannot live as human beings. Human rights and fundamental freedoms allow us to fully develop and use our human qualities, our intelligence, our talents and our conscience and to satisfy our spiritual and other needs.

As Freeman (2017) suggests, these human rights are similar to the Lockean concept of natural rights located in the Western liberal tradition. Therefore, they reflect a Western bias by emphasizing rights rather than duties, individual rather than collective rights, civil and political rather than economic, social and cultural rights, and a lack of explicit concern with the problem of imperialism.

However, the concept of human rights has evolved since 1948, with important contributions being made by non-Western states, including the development of collective rights. Since the ‘first generation’ of political and civil rights were emphasized in the 1948 UDHR, a ‘second generation’ of socioeconomic and cultural rights, a ‘third generation’ of solidarity and development rights to peace, a more equitable socioeconomic order, and a sustainable environment, and a ‘fourth generation’ of indigenous rights have been added to the international legal framework of human rights (Messer, 1993).

Along with states like Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Central African Republic and Zimbabwe, the DPRK rejects the internationally accepted norms of human rights as enshrined by the UN. The official version of the DPRK’s human rights strongly represents collective9 rights (Weathereley and Song, 2008; Song, 2011; Collins, 2018), as acutely stated by Collins (2018, p 2): ‘North Korea’s stated view of human rights observance is through the prism of the collective.’ While ordinary citizens are deprived the opportunity of understanding the notion of human rights, or even their existence, through the absence of formal education (Robinson, 2019), scholars have outlined the central characteristics of the DPRK’s official mode of human rights, namely ‘our style’ of human rights established by Kim Jong Il (Song, 2011). According to Song (2011, p 150), the four principal tenets of ‘our style’ human rights are: ‘(i) the right to national survival, (ii) dictatorship as the protection of human rights, (iii) granted by the fatherly leader, and finally (iv) the use of duty-based language of human rights.’ As embodied in these creeds, North Korean human rights do not support individual rights to freedom and liberty and instead, at least in theory, place strong emphasis on ‘the rights of the collective’ (Weathereley and Song, 2008, p 282).

According to its de jure policy, the DPRK has been a UN member state since 1991, and so has implicitly accepted the observance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter and accession to international human rights treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (Yang, 2018). However, its de facto policy essentially ignores de jure human rights legislation in practice by enforcing loyalty to the Supreme Leader and protecting the Kim regime from enemies within (Clemens Jr, 2016), all at the cost of human rights (Fahy, 2019).

On the other hand, Smith (2014) argues that there is a tendency among researchers to exaggerate the DPRK’s human rights issues, primarily driven by international concerns about the security threat caused by the country. Smith cites the Food and Agricultural Organization, World Food Programme and UNICEF report (2012), which suggested that food insecurity in North Korea was not entirely the fault of the country’s government. According to Smith (2014), the report stated that food insecurity in North Korea had multiple causes, including damage to agricultural production by climatic events, an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in cattle, and the reduced capacity for commercial imports. In harmony with this, there is some evidence to suggest a decline in maternal and children’s mortality rates and an improvement in nutritional levels in recent years. For instance, the DPRK’s VNR report indicates that mortality rates for children under the age of five and mothers per 10,000 newborn babies decreased between 2015 and 2019, along with an enhancement in the nutrition of children under five between 2012 and 2020 (Joung, 2021). In addition, NGOs that document human rights abuses in the DPRK have witnessed some changes since 2004. These include the amendment of the North Korean Criminal Code to impose less severe punishments for border-crossers, and fewer forced abortions and infanticides in detention centres for repatriated defectors, as a response to pressure from the international community (Hosaniak, 2019). In agreement with this, Quintana (2022) notes that the DPRK government has shown proactive engagement with the international community and UN procedures on some parts of the human rights agenda. Examples include the government’s participation in the reviews by the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2017; and its agreement to implement 132 recommendations of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2019, ‘including on progress in the realization of economic, social and cultural rights; addressing discrimination; pursuing gender equality; and human rights awareness-raising activities among citizens and officials’ (Quintana, 2022, p 11).

However, despite these indications of marginal improvements, some of the abovementioned laws have been reversed in recent years, and the human rights situation has worsened since the inception of Kim Jong Un in 2011 (Hosaniak, 2019). In addition, concerns regarding other human rights issues abound. For example, a lack of medical resources and poor maintenance of hospital facilities have led to inadequate healthcare services for people, in conjunction with shortages of even basic medicines, such as antibiotics (Collins, 2018). The detention and imprisonment of individuals with no legal protection remains a serious concern as there are no minimum standards of treatment for detainees. As a result, they are subject to long hours of physical labour with sub-standard nourishment and unhygienic conditions, causing high rates of disease and death (UNHRC, 2014; Baek, 2016; Garcia, 2019).

Worse still, there is an indication of increased incarceration of women repatriated from China since the amendment of the Criminal Code in 2009. Women now receive sentences in long-term detention centres, unlike prior to the reinforcement of the law when women were mostly sent to short-term detention centres, casting doubt on the seemingly more lenient approaches taken by the regime, mentioned previously (Hosaniak, 2013). In parallel with this, deeply entrenched cultural aspects of gendered violence have not been addressed, as encapsulated in the atrocious treatment of repatriated women in detention centres through the practice of forced abortion and infanticide (KINU, 2016).

Moreover, the UN Special Rapporteur report (Quintana, 2022) highlights the chronic food insecurity in the DPRK, with poor domestic food production. It further suggests that draconian COVID-19 restrictions have had a further negative impact on people’s ability to access basic food supplies. Public health has also been affected, including the exhaustion of sexual and reproductive health supplies provided by the United Nations Population Fund by July 2021, as well as under-investment in infrastructure, medical equipment and personnel. Furthermore, the report highlights a significant reduction in the number of defectors arriving in South Korea due to the protracted imposition of stricter border controls in the DPRK since the COVID-19 outbreak, as exemplified by 63 refugees in 2021, compared with 229 in 2020 and 1,047 in 2019 (Quintana, 2022). It is against this backdrop that women defectors’ activism becomes palpably imperative.

North Korean women’s human rights activism

Meanings of activism and human rights activists

Scholars have defined activism in numerous ways. Niblett (2017, p 1) suggests that ‘activism is about bringing to life ideas regarding power, fairness, democracy, and hope’. Permanent Culture Now (n.d.) defines activism as ‘quite simply taking action to effect social change’. Similarly, Leigh et al (2021, p 174) delineate activism as ‘a process by which actions and commitments are made to transform systems for social change’. Thus, the common thread that characterizes all forms of activism is ‘to challenge the status quo’ (Ryan, 2016, p 89) and/or to change existing arrangements and distributions of ‘status, power, and resources’ (Pérez, 2009, p 1). Passy and Monsch (2020, p 14) provide a more detailed definition of activism, which refers to ‘the sustained intervention of a group of individuals with the aim of achieving social, cultural, or political change’. In this regard, a particular goal plays a crucial role. Couch (2004, p 15) takes a broader perspective on activism:

A role assumed by individuals or collective actors either to resist what they consider to be a political wrong or to bring about political change, through contained or transgressive tactics, excluding political violence. An activist may therefore be a member of a social movement, popular struggle, trade union, collective, network, NGO, or civic or religious organisation, a scholar or student, or an individual unaffiliated with any group.

Consonant with this, activism can take varied forms, ranging from visible and explicit actions to more implicit and subtle influences (Ryan, 2016; Leigh et al, 2021).

In association with these definitions of activism, human rights activists are engaged, justice-oriented individuals ‘who advocate for the protection of their own rights, as well as the rights of others’ by taking an active role in tackling social injustice by questioning and challenging the existing social structures and political systems that have led to a disregard for people’s fundamental rights (Hall, 2019, p 27). Keck and Sikkink (1998) – in their examination of transnational advocacy organizations working on human rights, the environment and women’s rights – observed interactions between activists and various local, national and international organizations, structured by networks. By creating new links, activists increase their channels of access to global bodies. A distinctive feature of these networks is ‘the centrality of principled ideas or values in motivating their formation’ (Keck and Sikkink, 1998, p 1).

Additionally, Keck and Sikkink (1998, pp 40–41) make a pivotal point about historical campaigns for women’s rights and opposing slavery – that when they began, their ideas seemed almost impossible to achieve. However, activists involved in these movements made possible ‘the previously unimaginable, by framing problems in such a way that their solution comes to appear inevitable’. One of the most important tactics used to achieve this was ‘promoting change by reporting facts’, combined with ‘personal testimony to give those facts human meaning and to motivate action’ (Keck and Sikkink, 1998, p 45). According to these authors, the principles of human rights can critique traditional ideas of sovereignty, challenge human rights practices by a state and transform a state’s sovereign authority over its citizens in order to protect their fundamental rights against state abuse.

While people tend to associate activists largely with the imagery of those who march through the streets carrying signs, and chanting political slogans and messages, there are also others who work behind the scenes and who may not necessarily consider themselves activists (McLaughlin, n.d.). This latter reflects the experiences of North Korean women human rights activists. The women I have interviewed play a range of roles and the degree/extent of their involvement varies from a leader who is committed to full-time activism to those who occasionally participate in protests or provide testimonies of their experiences or interviews for the media and researchers. According to Ms A, who is the leading activist for DPRK women’s human rights, the mere fact of North Korean defectors living their lives to the full is itself human rights activism:

‘In Britain especially there is a North Korean embassy. The embassy monitors all the lives of defectors. But if they witness the images of defectors living successfully and strongly, that itself is challenging the North Korean regime. So even if people don’t do activism using words, living well itself is also important.’

Thus, North Korean human rights activism extends to the micropolitics of challenges enacted through everyday practices (Burns, 1961; Willner, 2011). Influenced by postmodern perspectives that question power operating as a single monolithic state or class inflicting itself on the masses, micropolitics considers power as being exerted through the mundane, little ‘networks’ of everyday life (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987; Thiele, 2010). Through the politicization of all areas of social and personal existence, every sphere of social life becomes problematic and a site of struggle, as stated by Deleuze and Guattari (1987, p 213): ‘In short, everything is political, but every politics is simultaneously a macropolitics and a micropolitics.’ In this sense, human rights activism is not limited to the macro- and meso-politics of group protests, marching and lobbying, but also extends to the everydayness through which defectors demonstrate their resilience, happiness and wellbeing outside the territory of North Korea. This challenge to the desire of the regime for women defectors to suffer and struggle in their lives outside the DPRK becomes an act of resistance in itself.

North Korean defector activism and reactions from the Kim Jong Un regime

As pointed out by Chubb and Yeo (2019), the dominant scholarly models of transnational activism are founded on a number of prevalent assumptions, which include: opposition movements operating inside the country; the necessity of local actors for lasting human rights change; and changes taking place from the top down. However, these premises do not tally with the case of DPRK human rights activism. According to Chubb and Yeo, there are neither domestic actors nor top-down movements within the DPRK. These researchers argue that the transnational activism of North Korean defectors outside the DPRK has demonstrated their mobilizing capacity by achieving significant outcomes in both domestic and international legislation: for example, stipulation of the Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women in 2010, in response to international pressure (Yang, 2018); and the passing of a law by the US in 2004 to promote human rights and freedom in North Korea (Human Rights Watch, 2016).

There are competing interpretations of how to bring human rights change to the DPRK, and North Korean defector human rights activists depend on NGOs and the UN for their survival (Chubb and Yeo, 2019). Driven largely by human rights activist organizations in South Korea and the US, this dependence does not entirely represent the experiences of defector activists in the UK, particularly women activists, as I explain in this book. Although collaboration and networking with such organizations is crucial, retaining financial independence from them provides leeway for women activists to retain some distance from shifts in politics or changes within these organizations.

Despite its fractured characteristics, with its competing approaches and interpretations, defectors’ human rights activism, in particular that based in the ROK, has exasperated the Kim Jong Un regime, as well as South Korea’s previous President Moon Jae-In’s government, as suggested by numerous US news articles (Berlinger et al, 2020; J-H. Cho, 2020; Choe, 2020). Berlinger et al (2020), citing the North Korean state media report, write that the DPRK government blew up the four-story liaison office building in the town of Kaesong, located near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) office, as retaliation for a group of defectors who used balloons to send anti-North Korean propaganda north of the DMZ. These balloons contained leaflets, or were loaded with Bibles, dollar bills, small radio sets or memory sticks containing content that the North considers subversive, such as South Korean soap operas (Choe, 2020).

The Northern regime claimed that such acts are in violation of the deal struck between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In in 2018 at their first summit, when they agreed to cease ‘all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets’ along their shared border (Berlinger et al, 2020). In a similar vein, the Kim regime called the propaganda sent by defector activists a ‘provocation graver than gun and artillery fire’ (Choe, 2020). As a retaliatory measure against the Southern government, it cut off lines of communication with South Korea (J-H. Cho, 2020). In an attempt to restart peaceful negotiations with the North, the South Korean Parliament passed legislation in December 2020 banning activists from sending balloons to North Korea, despite heavy criticism from those who opposed such a law (BBC News, 2020; The Guardian, 2020).

These responses are indicative of the impact that defector activism has on the North Korean government and the potential threat it poses of destabilizing the regime. Although this activism does not appear to be having an impact on the North Korean human rights agenda, it clearly has potential as a driver for change – which also applies to women’s activism. The defectors’ continuous fight against the appalling treatment of North Korean women by both the regime and China will have salient implications for women’s rights. While everyday borders and bordering operate to control and restrict women’s movements, they also provide fluid transgressive space for some. As Raunig (2007, p 252) suggests: ‘the border is no longer intended to keep two sides apart, but rather to enable the permanent constitution and confrontation of different with different as a space and condition of possibility for the revolutionary machine.’

This fluidity and multiplicity of the border enables some North Korean women to take part in activism to challenge both the DPRK government and international communities over their unjust treatment of North Korean women refugees. This is especially significant in a context where internal grassroots defiance networks are absent (Chubb and Yeo, 2019; Hosaniak, 2019).

Structure of the book

After situating North Korean women’s human rights activism within the global context, Chapter 2 examines methodological considerations relating to researching North Korean defectors, focusing on ethical issues and the challenges of studying North Korean women defectors and their human rights issues. The chapter begins with a discussion of phenomenology, particularly Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology. This is followed by a discussion of its relationship with the life history method, while exploring the power of storytelling. I then discuss issues around access and recruitment of participants during different phases of the research. Gaining access to North Korean defectors is generally difficult because the majority of them want to keep a low profile due to the risk of potential repercussions they and their families face from the regime. Also, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, it is extremely challenging to find willing participants. These factors raise several ethical concerns, while also requiring a sensitive approach to minimize any potential harm or risks to the participants, their families or the researcher. In addition, the dynamics between a researcher of South Korean heritage and North Korean defectors poses methodologically important questions. As noted by some researchers, North Korean escapees who have settled in South Korea generally struggle due to prejudice and vast cultural differences, together with the language barrier, despite both countries speaking Korean. Reflecting these issues, I discuss some of the difficulties that I experienced as a researcher of South Korean heritage studying North Korean participants, applying a self-reflective approach. Drawing on this, the chapter moves on to a discussion of the complex dynamics between insider and outsider in a critical manner. The final part of the chapter discusses the feminist approach that I have adopted in this research in order to centre the voices of the participants while reducing the distance between researcher and participant. Through this, I critically question the nature of ‘truth’ in positivist approaches and discuss the type of authenticity and validity that I am seeking in my research.

Chapter 3 presents the participants’ narratives. It focuses on the rich data addressing individual experiences and the observation of grave human rights violations encountered by women inside the regime, along with those who have escaped the DPRK, especially via China. The first part focuses on narratives addressing human rights issues faced in North Korea, such as domestic violence and sexual harassment. The second part presents narratives of female escapees’ experiences during their escape, primarily focusing on human trafficking and forced/voluntary marriages to Chinese men. This chapter further presents the central role of women since the economic crisis of the 1990s and the rise of their dual burden as they struggled to feed their families. In the analysis of these narratives, theories around gender and patriarchy are applied, in order to examine their accounts critically. For instance, some scholars – such as Sanchez (2016, 2018) and Zhang et al (2018) – have criticized existing perspectives that view women who are human trafficked as powerless victims, and have proposed the importance of their agency in navigating extremely oppressive global border regimes. The experiences of North Korean women reflect these contested views: they are both victims and free agents who use their bodies to protect their families. However, I argue that the patriarchal structures deeply embedded in their lives have ‘compelled’ these women to make such choices, even where they claim voluntary decisions.

Chapter 4 presents narratives of activists depicting the pathways through which they became involved in human rights activism. Activists’ narratives suggest that their harrowing experiences during their escape and lives in China initially made them feel ashamed, especially as women, and therefore they had kept silent about their stories. However, there had then been a transitional phase from victimhood to becoming vocal activists. Additionally, their narratives suggest a strong sense of responsibility, guilt and altruism, as well as concern for other people who are in similar situations, which operated as motivators for their activism. In conjunction with this, their dream of a better future for fellow North Korean women (and children and men) has become the driving force behind their activism. This chapter also explores the challenges these women face in their activism, such as some of the criticisms they have received from other North Korean defectors and their fear of potential harm to their families left behind, as well as to themselves.

Drawing on these stories, I argue that Altruistic Political Imagination (API) is essential for overcoming such challenges: that is to say, activists’ beliefs in the possibility of achieving improvements in the lives of North Korean women (and children and men). This chapter also explores the tactics and strategies deployed by the lead activist, and her collaboration with both national and international organizations.

Chapter 5 explores the theoretical concept of API, which captures North Korean women’s human rights activism more aptly than existing concepts around imagination and altruism. It begins with an examination of imagination. An imagined vision of a better future plays a vital role in activism and social movements. Hence, the section begins with an in-depth examination of the role of imagination in human life, engaging with philosophical, psychological and sociological perspectives. Alongside this, social relations and altruism form an inseparable part of this activism. Thus, the following section discusses altruism in depth, exploring its various meanings and contentious issues, and engaging with a wide range of scholarly works. While I acknowledge the relevance and usefulness of the concepts around altruism, especially those proposed by Passy (2001), I argue for the need to develop a concept in which imaginary and inter-relational aspects are more explicitly articulated in order to explain North Korean activists’ motivation towards their activism. I also propose that API potentially has a wider application to the analyses of other movements and forms of activism.

Chapter 6 provides a recapitulated overview of the book, drawing on all the chapters. It re-emphasizes the significance of activism in improving the lives of North Korean women. It also reinforces the salient contribution of API in unpacking human rights activism. Additionally, it examines what has been achieved so far through the participants’ activism, as well as other international endeavours to improve the situations of North Korean women. This chapter further discusses some limitations of the study and makes recommendations for future research, as well as suggestions for further actions to address North Korean women’s rights issues globally.

Notes

1

Throughout the book, I use the terms North Korean defectors, border-crossers, escapees, and refugees interchangeably. While these terms each have their own unique meanings, some common features connect them, and they can all be applied to North Korean migrants due to the extreme political and economic situation of the DPRK. Merriam-Webster online defines ‘defection’ as ‘conscious abandonment of allegiance or duty (as to a person, cause, or doctrine).’ Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries online define ‘defector’ as ‘a person who leaves a political party, country, etc. to join another that is considered to be an enemy’. As suggested in these definitions, the term defector has political connotations. In a strict sense, the majority of North Koreans who have left the country since the 1990s have done so due to hunger and hardship, and not for political reasons. However, the highly repressive characteristics of the country, which criminalize any unauthorized emigrants, implicitly brand them with the status of defector. Such despotic conditions have also forced many ordinary North Koreans to ‘flee’ or ‘escape’ the regime due to their fear of persecution because of their ‘illegal’ border-crossings to China or suspicious involvement with Christianity. Hence, there are sufficiently legitimate grounds for them to be regarded as refugees, as well as the principle of refugees sur place. In addition, drawing on my activist interviews, I would suggest that defection implies an act of resistance; even though most people have not left the country with the intention of defiance, the very act itself implies a challenge to the government by directly breaking the law it has established. On this basis, I propose that it is appropriate to use these terms interchangeably to describe North Korean migrants.

2

The official autarkic state ideology of the DPRK, established in 1972 by Kim Il Sung, whose common meaning is ‘self-reliance’, although the actual meaning is more nuanced (Lee, 2003). According to Lee (2003, p 105), Juche ideology embodies three facets: ‘political and ideological independence, especially from the Soviet Union and China; economic self-reliance and self-sufficiency; and a viable national defense system’.

3

The donju, meaning masters of money, refers to a new wealthy class and/or entrepreneurs in North Korea who have evolved from grassroots entrepreneurial activities (Habib, 2015) and have gained an upward social mobility through using their business acumen and foreign connections (Corrado, 2021; KBS World, 2021). Using financial resources, the donju have expanded their economic activities into markets, including for consumer goods, transport, distribution and money lending, in addition to playing a bigger role in real-estate development since the 2010s (Habib, 2015; Koen and Beom, 2020). According to KBS World (2021), they are influential economic actors, known to run the DPRK’s economy, who enjoy luxurious lifestyles, such as going to bars and restaurants, as well as buying foreign electronics and luxury goods, substantially different from the lives of the majority of ordinary North Koreans. Although it is difficult to assess the precise amount, in 2018 South Korea’s intelligence service estimated that US$12 billion in cash was held by the donju (Corrado, 2021).

4

According to Kim (2011), ‘The Royal Court Economy’ was created by Kim Jong Il in recompense for the collapse of the mainstream ‘People’s Economy’. It is an essentially clandestine, invisible and firewalled financial scheme that raises hard foreign currencies that are directly channelled to the Kim family and the party leadership (Mikheev, 1993; Kim, 2011).

5

‘Voluntary National Review’ is a system by which each member state voluntarily evaluates and discloses its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The State Planning Commission of the DPRK compiled VNR and reported to the UN General Assembly in July 2021 (Joung, 2021).

6

Socio-political profiling of the entire population. The term ‘“songbun” means “ingredients” or material (as in substance or makeup)’, which is used by the DPRK to designate one’s socio-political background (Collins, 2012, p 6). According to Collins, there are two types of songbun: ‘chulsin songbun’ or songbun based on the socio-economic origins of one’s family; and ‘sahoe songbun’ or societal songbun, which refers to one’s individual socio-political and economic behaviour and performance. Under this classification, every North Korean citizen is allocated to one of three classes: the ‘core’ or loyal class, the ‘wavering’ class, or the ‘hostile’ class. The status of core (haeksim) class is assigned to those considered loyal to the Kim regime, including those who fought alongside Kim Il Sung, socialist intellectuals and revolutionaries, and those who fought for the DPRK during the Korean War. This group enjoys the most privilege in every aspect of life. The wavering (dongyo) class consists of those whose loyalty to the party is in doubt, yet who are considered to have the possibility of serving the regime through their economic and political performance, especially if they demonstrate loyalty to the party. The hostile class (choktae) is reserved for those who are regarded as disloyal to the party and anti-socialist revolutionary, such as landowners and capitalists, those who have relatives in and/or strong connections with South Korea, and collaborators with the old Japanese colonial regime (Collins, 2012; Tudor and Pearson, 2015). The individual has no power over this classification, yet every aspect of their life is determined by it, including housing, education, occupational assignment, healthcare, and food distribution policies. It is therefore a ‘caste system’ designed to control the entire population and the major foundation for discrimination and human rights abuses (Collins, 2012, p 1).

7

Yeonjwaje means ‘guilt by association’ and links the crime of an individual to their family members (Collins and Oh, 2017). This affects three generations, and the rule stems from the traditional Korean monarchical past (Tudor and Pearson, 2015). According to Kwon (2020, p 97), this institution of collective culpability – also used in South Korea during and after the Korean War – is not a mere remnant of the past but ‘a highly effective instrument of social control’ deployed in post-war Korea.

8

Lankov (2004) explains that, on facing deportation, North Korean women are allowed to choose whether to take their children with them or leave them in China. Given the dire situation in DPRK prisons, most women prefer to leave their children in China. The narrative of my participant, Ms A, suggests a similar story. Ms A decided to leave her young son in China, as discussed in Chapter 4; despite the grim situation in her Chinese family, leaving him with them was considered to be better than taking him to North Korea.

9
Yang (2018) highlights the pervasiveness of collectivism in the DPRK, embodied in the metaphor of North Korean society as a ‘large family’, comprising the Supreme Leader as the father, the Party as the mother, and its citizens as children. Through the reinforcement of this imagery, the absolute authority and power of the Supreme Leader are consolidated. The following poem taken from a North Korean novel cited by Kang (2011, p 76) illuminates the interpenetration of this familial metaphor into DPRK society:
Our father is Marshal Kim Il Sung.
Our home is in the bosom of the Party.
We are all siblings.
We have nothing to envy in the world.

References

  • Aldrich, R. (2011) ‘An examination of China’s treatment of North Korean asylum seekers’, North Korean Review, 7(1): 3648.

  • Alrababa’h, A., Dillon, A., Williamson, S., Hainmueller, J., Hangartner, D. and Weinstein, J. (2021) ‘Attitudes toward migrants in a highly impacted economy: evidence from the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan’, Comparative Political Studies, 54(1): 3376. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414020919910

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Amnesty (2018) ‘Yemeni refugees on South Korea’s holiday island deserve hospitality not hostility’, Amnesty International, [online], 6 September. Available from: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/09/yemeni-refugees-on-south-korea-jeju/ [Accessed 11 November 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Arendt, H. (1951) The Origin of Totalitarianism, New York: Brace & Co.

  • Baek, J. (2016) North Korea’s Hidden Revolution, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

  • Balibar, É. and Williams, E.M. (2002) ‘World borders, political borders’, Modern Language Association, 117(1): 7178.

  • BBC News (2020) ‘South Korea balloons: Seoul to ban people sending cross-border messages’, BBC News, [online] 14 December. Available from: www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-55308456 [Accessed 20 May 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berlinger, J., Kwon, J. and Seo, Y. (2020) ‘North Korea blows up liaison office in Kaesong used for talks with South’, CNN, [online] 16 June. Available from: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/16/asia/north-korea-explosion-intl-hnk/index.html [Accessed 20 February 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berry, M., Garcia-Blanco, I. and Moore, K. (2015) ‘Press coverage of the refugee and migrant crisis in the EU: a content analysis of five European countries’, Report prepared for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Available from: www.unhcr.org/56bb369c9.pdf [Accessed 11 June 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Betts, A. (2013) Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement, New York: Cornell University Press.

  • Burns, T. (1961) ‘Micropolitics: mechanisms of institutional change’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 6(3): 25781.

  • Butler, J. (2004) Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, London: Verso.

  • Cassidy, K. (2019) ‘Everyday bordering: the internal reach of the UK’s borders’, Geography, 104(2): 100102. DOI: 10.1080/00167487.2019.12094069

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cassidy, K. (2020) ‘Everyday re-bordering and the intersections of borderwork, boundary work and emotion work amongst Romanians living in the UK’, Migration Letters, 17(4): 5518. https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v17i4.839

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cathcart, A. (2017) ‘Kim Jong-Un Syndrome: North Korean commemorative culture and the succession process’, in A. Cathcart, R. Winstanley-Chesters and C. Green (eds) Change and Continuity in North Korean Politics, Abingdon: Routledge, pp 622.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chant, S. (2013) ‘Gender and urban change: cities through a “gender lens”: a golden “urban age” for women in the global South?’, Environment and Urbanization, 25(1): 929. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956247813477809

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Charny, J.R. (2004) ‘North Koreans in China: a human rights analysis’, International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, 13(2): 7597.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cho, J-A., Yee, J-S. and Yi, H-Y. (2020) ‘Daily lives of North Korean women and gender politics’, KINU. Available from: www.kinu.or.kr/pyxis-api/1/digital-files/9765b5cf-8b83-442e-aa10-710214dc8661 [Accessed 20 November 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cho, J-H. (2020) ‘North Korea blows up liaison office with South Korea: the destruction is mostly symbolic and designed to send a message to South Korea’, ABC News, [online] 16 June. Available from: https://abcnews.go.com/International/north-korea-blows-liaison-office-south-korea/story?id=71271944 [Accessed 03 March 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cho, S. (2020) ‘Why North Korea could not implement the Chinese style reform and opening? The internal contradiction between economic reform and political stability’, Journal of Asian Security, 7(3): 30524.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Choe, S-H. (2020) ‘As floating propaganda irks North Korea, the South isn’t happy either’, New York Times, [online] 11 June. Available from: www.nytimes.com/2020/06/11/world/asia/north-korea-balloons-propaganda.html [Accessed 13 December 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chubb, D. and Yeo, A. (2019) ‘Adaptive activism: transnational advocacy networks and the case of North Korea’, in A. Yeo and D. Chubb (eds) North Korean Human Rights: Activists and Networks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 128.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clemens Jr., W.C. (2016) North Korea and the World: Human Rights, Arms Control, and Strategies for Negotiation, Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collins, R. (2012) ‘Marked for life: Songbun North Korea’s social classification system. Committee for human rights in North Korea’, The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Available from: www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/HRNK_Songbun_Cover_Web.pdf [Accessed 14 July 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collins, R. (2018) ‘Denied from the start: human rights at the local level in North Korea’, The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Available from: www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/Collins_Denied_FINALFINALFINAL_WEB.pdf [Accessed 14 July 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collins, R. (2019) ‘North Korea’s Organisation and Guidance Department: the control tower of human rights denial’, The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Available from: www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/Collins_OGD_Web.pdf [Accessed 14 July 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Collins, R. and Oh, A.M. (2017) ‘From cradle to grave: the path of North Korean innocents’, The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Available from: www.hrnk.org/uploads/pdfs/Collins_Cradle_to_Grave_WEB_FINALFINAL.pdf [Accessed 14 July 2020].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Congressional Research Service (CRS) (2007) ‘CRS report for Congress: North Korean refugees in China and human rights issues: international response and U.S. policy options’, 26 September. Available from: https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/RL34189.pdf [Accessed 14 July 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Corrado, J. (2021) ‘Kim Jong Un’s risky economic gambit’, 38 North, [online] 2 April. Available from: www.38north.org/2021/04/kim-jong-uns-risky-economic-gambit/ [Accessed 17 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Couch, J. (2004) ‘This is What Democracy Looks Like: The Genesis, Culture and Possibilities of Anti-corporate Activism’, PhD thesis, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crozier-De Rosa, S. and Mackie, V. (2019) Remembering Women’s Activism, Oxford: Routledge.

  • De Coninck, D., Ogan, C. and d’Haenens, L. (2021) ‘Can “the Other” ever become “One of Us”? Comparing Turkish and European attitudes toward refugees: a five-country study’, International Communication Gazette, 83(3): 21737. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048519895376

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, B. Massumi (trans), Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • d’Haenens, L. and Joris, W. (2019) ‘Images of immigrants and refugees in Western Europe: media representations, public opinion, and refugees’ experiences’, in L. d’Haenens, W. Joris and F. Heinderyckx (eds) Images of Immigrants and Refugees in Western Europe: Media Representations, Public Opinion and Refugees’ Experiences, Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, pp 718.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Domínguez, G. (2014) ‘No country for refugees? Japan and South Korea’s tough asylum policies’, Deutsche Welle. (DW), [online] 11 April. Available from: www.dw.com/en/no-country-for-refugees-japan-and-south-koreas-tough-asylum-policies/a-18037765 [Accessed 11 November 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dukalskis, A. (2016) ‘North Korea’s shadow economy: a force for authoritarian resilience or corrosion?’, Europe-Asia Studies, 68(3): 487507.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eom, T. and Kim, T. (2016) ‘A qualitative study of the human rights of female North Korean defectors living in China’, The Journal of Human Studies, 39: 5572.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fahy, S. (2019) Dying for Rights: Putting North Korea’s Human Rights Abuses on the Record, New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Fontanari, E. and Ambrosini, M. (2018) ‘Into the interstices: everyday practices of refugees and their supporters in Europe’s migration crisis’, Sociology, 52(3): 587603. DOI: 10.1177/0038038518759458

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Foucault, M. (1979) The History of Sexuality, Volume One: The Will to Knowledge, R. Hurley (trans), London: Penguin Books.

  • Frank, R. (2016) ‘The unification cases of Germany and Korea: a dangerous comparison (Part 1 of 2)’, 38 north, [online] 3 November. Available from: www.38north.org/2016/11/rfrank110316/ [Accessed 07 August 2020].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fransen, S. and de Haas, H. (2022) ‘Trends and patterns of global refugee migration’, Population and Development Review, 48(1): 97128.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Freeman, M. (2017) Human Rights (3rd edition), Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Freedman, J. (2016) ‘Sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women: a hidden aspect of the refugee “crisis”’, Reproductive Health Matters, 24(47): 1826. DOI:10.1016/j.rhm.2016.05.003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Garcia, A.B.M. (2019) ‘Denouncing human trafficking in China: North Korean women’s memoirs as evidence’, State Crime Journal, 8(1): 5979.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Getmansky, A. (2021) ‘Security fears driving hostility towards refugees in Turkey’, LSE Research for the World, [online] 11 March. Available from: www.lse.ac.uk/research/research-for-the-world/society/security-fears-driving-hostility-towards-refugees-in-turkey [Accessed 20 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Green, C. (2016) ‘The Sino-North Korean border economy: money and power relations in North Korea’, Asian Perspective, 40: 41534.

  • Green, C. and Denney, S. (2017) ‘Pockets of efficiency: an institutional approach to economic reform and development in North Korea’, in A. Cathcart, R. Winstanley-Chesters and C. Green (eds) Change and Continuity in North Korean Politics, Abingdon: Routledge, pp 95108.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greenhill, K.M. (2016) Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Guardian (2020) ‘South Korea bans activists from flying propaganda balloons over North Korea’, The Guardian, [online] 15 December. Available from: www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/15/south-korea-bans-activists-from-flying-propaganda-balloons-over-north-korea [Accessed 21 May 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haas, B. (2018) ‘Influx of refugees from Yemen divides South Korean resort island’, The Guardian, [online] 12 July. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/12/refugees-from-yemen-divides-south-korean-resort-island-of-jeju [Accessed 21 May 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Habib, B. (2015) ‘The rise and rise of North Korea’s “money masters”’, The Conversation, [online] 19 October. Available from: https://theconversation.com/the-rise-and-rise-of-north-koreas-money-masters-47708 [Accessed 17 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haggard, S. and Noland, M. (2012) ‘Gender in transition: the case of North Korea’, World Development, 41: 5166.

  • Hall, G. (2019) ‘Human rights activism: factors which influence and motivate young adults in Australia’, Human Rights Education Review, 2(2): 2644.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hansen, R. (2014) ‘State controls: borders, refugees, and citizenship’, in E. Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, G. Loescher, K. Long and N. Sigona (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 25364.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hegde, R.S. (2021) ‘Afterword entangled politics: borderscapes and sexuality’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44(9): 166871. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2021.1901953

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holzberg, B., Madörin, A. and Pfeifer, M. (2021) ‘The sexual politics of border control: an introduction’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44(9): 1485506. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2021.1892791

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hosaniak, J. (2013) Status of Women’s Rights in the Context of Socio-Economic Changes in the DPRK, NKHR Briefing Report No. 7, Seoul: Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hosaniak, J. (2019) ‘NGOs as discursive catalyst at the UN and beyond’, in A. Yeo and D. Chubb (eds) North Korean Human Rights: Activists and Networks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 13153.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2016) ‘South Korea: act to promote rights in North Korea’, Human Rights Watch, [online] 2 February. Available from: www.hrw.org/news/2016/02/03/south-korea-act-promote-rights-north-korea [Accessed 13 December 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2022) ‘Myanmar: no justice, no freedom for Rohingya 5 years on’, Human Rights Watch, [online] 24 August. Available from: www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/24/myanmar-no-justice-no-freedom-rohingya-5-years [Accessed 8 April 2023].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Huntington, S.P. (1993) ‘The clash of civilizations?’, Foreign Affairs, 72(3): 2249.

  • Huntington, S.P. (1997) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York: Touchstone.

  • Irgil, E. (2022) ‘When the government comes to the neighbourhood: everyday regulations and Syrian refugees’ encounters with local state authorities’, Journal of Refugee Studies, 35(2): 893909. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/feac008

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Joo, H-M. (2010) ‘Visualising the invisible hands: the shadow economy in North Korea’, Economy and Society, 39(1): 110145. https://doi.org/10.1080/03085140903424618

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Joung, E. (2021) ‘Between “food anxiety” and the Arduous March during the COVID-19 pandemic: are food prices in North Korea truly volatile?’, KINU Online Series, 8 June. Available from: www.kinu.or.kr/pyxis-api/1/digital-files/58e9aea1–728e-4a6b-90db-722409e5e924 [Accessed 14 July 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jung, K. and Dalton, B. (2006) ‘Rhetoric versus reality for the women of North Korea: mothers of the revolution’, Asian Survey, 46(5): 74160.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kang, J.W. (2008) ‘The patriarchal state and women’s status in socialist North Korea’, Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, 6(2): 5570.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kang, J.W. (2011) ‘Political uses of Confucianism in North Korea’, The Journal of Korean Studies, 16(1): 6388. www.jstor.org/stable/41490270

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaplan, R.D. (1994) ‘The coming anarchy: how scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet’, The Atlantic, [online] February. Available from: www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1994/02/the-coming-anarchy/304670/ [Accessed 2 May 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaplow, L. (2015) ‘Why are migrants surging into Europe now?’, National Public Radio, [online] 2 September. Available from: https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/02/436905795/why-are-migrants-surging-into-europe-now [Accessed 17 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KBS World (2021) ‘Donju in N. Korea’, KBS World, [online] 19 August. Available from: http://world.kbs.co.kr/service/contents_view.htm?lang=e&board_seq=408796 [Accessed 17 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Keck, M.E. and Sikkink, K. (1998) Activists Beyond Borders, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • Kim, K-J. (2011) ‘The defector’s tale: inside North Korea’s secret economy’, World Affairs, 174(3): 3546.

  • Kim, K-S. and Jang, C-W. (2021) ‘“Kim-Jong-un-ism”? Or “Kim Jong-un thought”?’, KINU Online Series, 16 December. Available from: www.kinu.or.kr/2021/eng/1221/co21-31e.pdf [Accessed 25 January 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kinealy, C., King, J. and Reilly, C. (eds) (2016) Women and the Great Hunger, Hamden, CT: Quinnipiac University Press.

  • KINU (2016) ‘White Paper on human rights in North Korea. Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification’. Available from: www.kinu.or.kr/pyxis-api/1/digital-files/ae064b8c-fe6a-448d-826d-5937b699aa46 [Accessed 02 March 2019].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koen, V. and Beom, J. (2020) ‘North Korea: the last transition economy?’, OECD Economics Department Working Papers No. 1607. Available from: www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=ECO/WKP%282020%2915&docLanguage=En [Accessed 17 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Korean Association of Social Scientists (2016) ‘Fundamentals of Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism’. Available from: www.kfausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Fundamentals-of-Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.pdf [Accessed 2 November 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kurlantzick, J. and Mason, J. (2006) ‘North Korean refugees: the Chinese dimension’, in S. Haggard and M. Norland (eds) The North Korean Refugee Crisis: Human Rights and International Response, Washington, DC: U.S Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kwon, H. (2020) After the Korean War: An Intimate History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Kwon, J. (2019) ‘South Korea’s “Yemeni refugee problem”’, MEI@75, [online] 23 April. Available from: www.mei.edu/publications/south-koreas-yemeni-refugee-problem [Accessed 2 November 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lankov, A. (2004) ‘North Korean refugees in Northeast China’, Asian Survey, 44(6): 85673.

  • Lankov, A. and Kim, S-H. (2014) ‘Useless men, entrepreneurial women, and North Korea’s post-Socialism: transformation of gender roles since the early 1990s’, Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, 20(2): 6896. DOI: 10.1080/12259276.2014.11666182

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, G. (2003) ‘The political philosophy of Juche’, Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs, 3(1): 10512.

  • Lee, K-C., Kim, S., Yee, J.S., Jeong, E.M. and Rim, Y. (2020) ‘White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2020’, KINU. Available from: www.kinu.or.kr/pyxis-api/1/digital-files/0217f31a-0405-4171-8c17-eb38de070a81 [Accessed 8 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, S. and Slavney, N. (2021) ‘Afghanistan crisis reignites South Korea’s refugee debate’, The Diplomat, [online] 20 October. Available from: https://thediplomat.com/2021/10/afghanistan-crisis-reignites-south-koreas-refugee-debate/ [Accessed 11 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lee, S-S. (2012) ‘Paradox of neoliberalism: Arab Spring’s implications on North Korea’, North Korean Review, 8(1): 5366.

  • Leigh, E.W., Pak, K. and Phuong, J. (2021) ‘Defining ourselves: exploring our leader and activist identities as Asian American women doctoral students’, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 14(2): 17488. https://doi.org/10.1037/dhe0000173

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linantud, J. and Beatty, B. (2011) ‘Geopolitics and the obstacles to reform in North Korea’, Contemporary Political Society, I(1): 4163.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mai, N., Macioti, P.G., Bennachie, C., Fehrenbacher, A.E., Giametta, C., Hoefinger, H. and Musto, J. (2021) ‘Migration, sex work and trafficking: the racialized bordering politics of sexual humanitarianism’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44(9): 160728. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2021.1892790

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marfleet, P. (2006) Refugees in a Global Era, New York: Penguin Books.

  • Mbembe, A. (2003) ‘Necropolitics’, L. Meintjes (trans), Public Culture, 15(1): 1140.

  • McLaughlin, R.E. (n.d.) ‘Different forms of activism op-ed’, SPARK, [online]. Available from: http://www.sparkrj.org/website/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Activism-Op-Ed.pdf [Accessed 3 April 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messer, E. (1993) ‘Anthropology and human rights’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 22: 22149.

  • Mikheev, V. (1993) ‘Reforms of the North Korean economy: requirements, plans and hopes’, Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 5(1): 8195. DOI: 10.1080/10163279309464486

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ministry of Unification (2022) ‘Policy on North Korean defectors’. Available from: www.unikorea.go.kr/eng_unikorea/relations/statistics/defectors/ [Accessed 25 September 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Muico, N. K. (2005) ‘An absence of choice: the sexual exploitation of North Korean women in China’, Anti-slavery International. Available from: www.antislavery.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/full_korea_report_2005.pdf [Accessed 09 April 2019].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Niblett, B. (2017) ‘Facilitating activist education: social and environmental justice in classroom practice to promote achievement, equity, and well-being’, Research Monograph, 66: 14.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Noland, M. (2003) ‘Famine and reform in North Korea’, The Institute for International Economics Working Paper 03–5.

  • Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) (2022) ‘A few countries take responsibility for most of the world’s refugees’, NRC, [online]. Available from: www.nrc.no/shorthand/fr/a-few-countries-take-responsibility-for-most-of-the-worlds-refugees/index.html [Accessed 11 November 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (2019) ‘The price is rights: the violation of the right to an adequate standard of living in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’. Available from: www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Countries/KP/ThePriceIsRights_EN.pdf [Accessed 11 December 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Park, K-A. (2011) ‘Economic crisis, women’s changing economic roles, and their implications for women’s status in North Korea’, The Pacific Review, 24(2): 15977.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parker, S. (2015) ‘“Unwanted invaders”: the representation of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and Australian print media’, eSharp, 23 (Myth and Nation): 1–21.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Passy, F. (2001) ‘Political altruism and solidarity movement: an introduction’, in M. Giugni and F. Passy (eds) Political Altruism? Solidarity Movements in International Perspective, Lanham, MA: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, pp 326.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Passy, F. and Monsch, G-A. (2020) Contentious Minds: How Talk and Ties Sustain Activism, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Pérez, W. (2009) We are Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream, Stirling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

  • Permanent Culture Now (n.d.) ‘Introduction to activism’. Available from: www.permanentculturenow.com/what-is-activism/ [Accessed 7 May 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Quintana, T.O. (2022) ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’, United Nations General Assembly, [online] March. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-peoples-republic-korea/report-special-rapporteur-situation-human-rights-8 [Accessed 27 June 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rashid, R. (2021) ‘South Korea designates arriving Afghans as ‘persons of special merit’, The Guardian, [online] 26 August. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/26/south-korea-designates-afghan-arrivals-as-persons-of-special-merit [Accessed 27 June 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Raunig, G. (2007) Arts and Revolution: Transversal activism in the Long Twentieth Century, A. Derieg (trans), Los Angeles: Semiotext.

  • Robinson, W.C. (2019) Lost Generation: The Health and Human Rights of North Korean Children, 1990–2018, Washington, DC: The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ryan, J. (2016) ‘Strategic activism, educational leadership and social justice’, International Journal of Leadership in Education, 19(1): 87100. DOI: 10.1080/13603124.2015.1096077

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sanchez, G. (2016) ‘Women’s participation in the facilitation of human smuggling: the case of the US Southwest’, Geopolitics, 21(2): 387406.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sanchez, G. (2018) ‘Five misconceptions about migrant smuggling’, Migration Policy Centre, Issue 2018/07.

  • Sassen, S. (2014) Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schwekendiek, D. and Mercier, N. (2016) ‘A contemporary history of North Korea: the socioeconomic rise of women in the post-cold war era as witnessed in different regions’, Asian Women, 32(4): 97121.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seol, D-H. and Skrentny, J.D. (2009) ‘Why is there so little migrant settlement in East Asia?’, International Migration Review, 43(3): 578620.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sheller, M. (2018) Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes, London: Verso.

  • Shulong, C. (2015) ‘China’s perception and policy about North Korea’, American Foreign Policy Interests, 37: 2738.

  • Smets, K, Mazzocchetti, J., Gerstmans, L. and Mostmans, L. (2019) ‘Beyond victimhood: reflecting on migrant-victim representations with Afghan, Iraqi, and Syrian asylum seekers and refugees in Belgium’, in L. d’Haenens, W. Joris and F. Heinderyckx (eds) Images of Immigrants and Refugees in Western Europe: Media Representations, Public Opinion and Refugees’ Experiences, Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, pp 17797.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, H. (2014) ‘Crimes against humanity?’, Critical Asian Studies, 46:1: 127143. DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2014.863581

  • Song, J. (2011) Human Rights Discourse in North Korea: Post-colonial, Marxist and Confucian Perspectives, London: Routledge.

  • Song, J. (2017) ‘Co-evolution of networks and discourses: a case from North Korean defector-activists’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 71(3): 28499.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sung, K. and Cho, S. (2018) ‘Why are North Korean women more likely to defect than North Korean men?’, Asian Women, 34(3): 97118. https://doi.org/10.14431/aw.2018.09.34.3.97

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thiele, K. (2010) ‘To believe in this world, as it is’: immanence and the quest for political activism, Deleuze Studies, 4: 2845.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tudor, D. and Pearson, J. (2015) North Korean Confidential, North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.

  • United Nations (1948) ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’. Available from: www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf [Accessed 20 February 2019].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • United Nations (1987) Human Rights: Questions and Answers, New York: UN.

  • United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) (2013) ‘State of women in cities 2012-2013: gender and the prosperity of cities’. Available from: www.unhabitat.org/sites/default/files/download-manager-files/Gender%20and%20Prosperity%20of%20Cities.pdf [Accessed 20 February 2023].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (n.d.) ‘Glossary’. Available from: www.unhcr.org/449267670.pdf [Accessed 15 June 2022].

  • UNHCR (2001–2022) ‘Convention and protocol relating to the status of refugees’. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/3b66c2aa10 [Accessed 13 June 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (2016) ‘UNHCR viewpoint: ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant’ – which is right?’. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/news/latest/2016/7/55df0e556/unhcr-viewpoint-refugee-migrant-right.html [Accessed 20 April 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (2021a) ‘Fact Sheet: Japan’. Available from: https://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/JAPAN%20Fact%20Sheet-June%202021.pdf [Accessed 9 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (2021b) ‘Fact Sheet: Republic of Korea’. Available from: https://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/UNHCR%20Republic%20of%20Korea%20fact%20sheet%20February%202021.pdf [Accessed 9 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (2021–22) ‘Refugee data finder’. Available from: https://www.unhcr.org/refugee-statistics/ [Accessed 11 June 2022].

  • UNHCR (2022a) ‘Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’. Available from: www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/hrc/co-idprk/commission-inquiryon-h-rin-dprk [Accessed 1 July 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHCR (2022b) ‘Global trends: forced displacement 2021’, Available from: www.unhcr.org/uk/publications/brochures/62a9d1494/global-trends-report-2021.html [Accessed 8 October 2022].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNHRC (2014) ‘Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’. Available from: www.documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/108/71/PDF/G1410871.pdf?OpenElement [Accessed 27 August 2018].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Walsh, J., Khoo, E. and Nygren, K. (2022) ‘“Everyday bordering” in England, Sweden and Bulgaria: social work decision-making processes when working with migrant family members’, Journal of International Migration and Integration, 23: 34361.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weathereley, R. and Song, J. (2008) ‘The evolution of human rights thinking in North Korea’, Journal of Communist Studies and Transitional Politics, 24(2): 27296.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Willner, R. (2011) ‘Micro-politics: an underestimated field of qualitative research in political science’, German Policy Studies, 7(3): 15581.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Food Programme (WFP) (2019) ‘World Food Programme DPR Korea 2019-2021: Addressing humanitarian needs and undernutrition, reducing disaster risk and responding to crises’, WFP, [online] February. Available from: https://reliefweb.int/report/democratic-peoples-republic-korea/world-food-programme-dpr-korea-2019-2021-addressing [Accessed 9 April 2023].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Food Programme (WFP) (2021) ‘WFP DPR Korea country brief’, WFP, [online] December. Available from: https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000135453/download/#:~:text=WFP%20DPR%20Korea%20Country%20Brief%20December%202021%20%E2%80%A2%20The%20UN,%2D%20essential%20payments%20in%2Dcountry. [Accessed 9 April 2023].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wright, M.W. (2011) ‘Necropolitics, narcopolitics, and femicide: gendered violence on the Mexico–U.S. border’, Signs, 36(3): 70731. https://doi.org/10.1086/657496

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yang, J. (2018) ‘Women’s rights in the DPRK: discrepancies between international and domestic legal instruments in promoting women’s rights and the reality reflected by North Korean defectors’, Cornell International Law Journal, 51: 21943. https://ww3.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/ILJ/upload/Yang-final.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yeo, A. (2021) State, Society, and Markets in North Korea, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Yeo, A. and Chubb, D. (eds) (2019) North Korean Human Rights: Activists and Networks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Yoon, L. (2021) ‘North Korea’s leader warns of famine: Kim Jong Un may be tightening already firm grip on power’, Human Rights Watch, [online] 12 April. Available fromwww.hrw.org/news/2021/04/12/north-koreas-leader-warns-famine [Accessed 1 July 2021].

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yuval-Davis, N., Wemyss, G. and Cassidy, K. (2019) Bordering, Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Zhang, S., Sanchez, G. and Achilli, L. (2018) ‘Crimes of solidarity in mobility: alternative views on migrant smuggling’, Annals AAPSS, 676(March): 615.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 15 15 0
Full Text Views 246 246 10
PDF Downloads 33 33 4

Altmetrics