GENEVA (26 July 2023) – The 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement is a moment to remember the hardships endured by the people of North Korea over seven decades, UN experts* said today. This anniversary is another opportunity to raise global awareness about the dire situation in North Korea and renew a sense of urgency to act, they said. The experts issued the following statement:
“Today’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement provides us with a moment to reflect on the hardships and challenges that the people of North Korea have endured over the years.
Seven decades after the Armistice Agreement was signed, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is more isolated from the global community than ever before. Reports indicate that the situation has worsened in various areas, posing many challenges for people within the country.
We should be more concerned than ever about the human rights situation in the DPRK.
Due to a prolonged COVID-19 related border shutdown, most people who relied on jangmadang (informal markets) to make a living have lost sources of income. An increasing number of people are running out of cash and unable to buy food. Some are starving. Authorities are strengthening control over commercial activities by labelling them “anti-socialistic behaviour.” They are tightening control of access to information.
Reunions of separated families between the two Koreas have not taken place since 2018. In the last 70 years, tens of thousands of people have been separated from their families. Koreans abducted during the war by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and prisoners of war have not yet returned. After the war, many Koreans and other foreign nationals, notably from Japan, were forcibly disappeared into the Democratic People’ Republic of Korea. Many of the disappeared and their family members are now of advanced age.
Further isolation of the country will only add a further burden on the North Korean people who are struggling to find food for their families. It will also take away the hope of separated families who still cherish hopes of meeting their loved ones again.
We cannot remain indifferent. Today, every actor, and particularly both parties to the Armistice Agreement and the international community, must recall the plight of the people of North Korea, the disappeared and the separated, and urgently seek ways to reengage and find solutions.
These seven decades have made it evident that continuing this status quo is not an adequate response to the suffering of people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or to sustainable peace in the Korean Peninsula.”
*The experts: Ms. Elizabeth Salmón, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Aua Baldé (Chair-Rapporteur), Gabriella Citroni (Vice-Chair), Angkhana Neelapaijit, Grażyna Baranowska, Ana Lorena Delgadillo Pérez, Working Group on enforced or involuntary disappearances;The Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.