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Leading International Scholars on North Korea Address the Links Between Human Rights, Nuclear Weapon


CONTACT: Christine Ahn, 310-482-9333June 18, Christine Hong, 510-658-3275

SAN FRANCISCO, June 18—On Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 6:30 pm at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street in San Francisco, two leading international scholars on North Korea human rights and security will break down current events in North Korea and offer policy recommendations for improving human rights for North Koreans and a peaceful resolution to the military standoff.

This timely forum is co-organized by the Korea Policy Institute (KPI) and Grace Cathedral. One of the organizers of the event, Christine Ahn, a KPI fellow, says, “In these tense times with President Obama taking a hawkish approach in the wake of North Korea’s second nuclear test and with the freedom of two American reporters at stake, the speakers show us that there are constructive approaches for achieving peace and human rights on the Korean peninsula.”

The two international North Korea experts are from South Korea and the United Kingdom. Dr. Suh Bohyuk, former senior researcher at the South Korea National Human Rights Commission, is currently Research Professor at Ewha University. Dr. Hazel Smith is Professor of Resilience and Security at Cranfield University and author of numerous books on North Korea, including Hungry for Peace: International Security, Humanitarian Assistance, and Social Change in North Korea. Dr. Christine Hong, KPI fellow and Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will moderate the forum.

“Human rights do not take place in a vacuum,” says Dr. Suh. “They are tied to other issues such as development, peace, humanitarianism, and reconciliation.” Departing from those who advocate that human rights problems must be resolved before any talk of negotiating peace, Dr. Suh proposes that “peace be included in the category of human rights, and the security situation be considered in any strategy to improve human rights.”

Focusing on the relationship between food and nuclear weapons, Dr. Smith will address why its nuclear program makes sense to North Korea. According to Dr. Smith, North Korea is “walking a tightrope in using nuclear tests to try to persuade the United States back to the sorts of negotiations that took place between 2006 and 2008.” Dr. Smith will also cover North Korea’s relations with China and the limited options available to achieving the goals of peace, prosperity and improved human rights. “In the end, it is only if the United States as the key protagonist reengages the DPRK through proactive diplomatic negotiations that we are likely to see significant moves towards peace and stability for Korea’s people.”

Dr. Suh will also be in Los Angeles to present his research. The LA Forum will occur on Friday, June 26. The reception will be at 6:00 with the talk at 7:00. The location will be the Nanum Cultural Center, 3471 W. 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90005.

For more information, visit the Korea Policy Institute at or Grace Cathedral at Click here for the San Francisco event flyer (pdf).


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