May 19, 2024

Studying North Korea’s concept of ‘rights’

Expert explains how the right to regime survival outweighs any individual right in the DPRK

In her 2011 book, Human Rights Discourse in North Korea, Singapore-based professor Jiyoung Song explores the North Korean view of human rights by analyzing a vast array of primary sources, in relation to modern and contemporary views of individual and collective freedom developed in North Korea since its inception.

Song argues that the general notion of North Korea as a country that knows no rights at all is not only erroneous, but detrimental to our understanding of the country. The DPRK, she argues, has developed a set of norms to regulate its domestic life, and although such norms differ drastically from the Western understanding of human rights, they are nevertheless important and ought to be thoroughly analyzed. NK News has spoken to Song to understand what the notion of human rights entails in North Korea and how it can be understood in Western standards.

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