June 20, 2021

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The benefits – and challenges – of verifying North Korean defector testimony

Learning from perpetrators of state crime is critical, says expert

Those on the outside trying to understand what goes on inside North Korea have long had to trust the people that manage to flee the country. Testimony from defectors plays a vital role for researchers and activists trying to get an insider’s perspective, providing unique and important, but often unverifiable, information.

Charles von Denkowski is a doctoral student on North Korean state crime at the Ruhr University of Bochum. With a background in criminology, he has been researching the relationship between policing and state criminality in North Korea for the last four years.