North Korea’s Urriminjokgirri site has released a YouTube video claiming well-known defector Shin Dong-hyuk is a criminal who escaped North Korea to avoid punishment.
The release of the video comes as North Korea has been mounting a “charm offensive” aimed at gaining international support for its perspective on human rights issues.
The video, released on October 26, is entitled “Lies and Truth: Who is Shin Dong-hyeok.” It claims that the U.S. and “other hostile forces” have conducted “childish plots” to mislead international public opinion “in the UN arena regarding non-existent human rights violations” in the country.
The video paints defectors as “vicious” people who have run away from the country to escape punishment for crimes they committed. Focusing on Shin, a political prison camp survivor and subject of Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey From North Korea to Freedom in the West, the video claimed Shin is at the “forefront of the plot.”
The video claimed to disclose Shin’s real identity, saying his name in Shin In-gun and interviewed several people who claim to know him along with his real father.
One woman interviewed claimed that Shin raped her daughter, and called him a “lazy crook” who “did all kinds of bad things.”
The video even interviews Shin’s father, who urged him to return to North Korea. In a post on his Facebook page today, Shin acknowledged the man in the video is his real father.
In Camp 14, Shin describes witnessing the death of his mother, as well as his brother, and leaving his father in the prison camp he was born in.
This is also not the first time that North Korea has released an “expose” on well-known defectors. Urriminjokgirri ran a series in Korean last year “exposing the truth” behind several well-known defectors including Aquariums of Pyongyang author Kang Chol-hwan, defector-lawmaker Cho Myungchul, and New Focus International editor-in-chief Jang Jinsung.
But the recent attack on Shin, a prominent human rights activist, may be connected with North Korea’s charm offensive before the upcoming vote in the UN General Assembly on a North Korean human rights resolution written by the European Union and Japan.
If passed, the resolution could recommend the referral of high-ranking members of the country’s government, including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to the International Criminal Court.
“North Korea intends to win over more UN member states that would vote against the resolution on North Korean human rights,” says Eun-kyoung Kwon, manager of international affairs at Open North Korea. “The North’s authorities must feel a huge burden and pressure.”
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