What would be a quick 15-second elevator pitch about yourself?
Hello! My name is Peter Lee and I have been involved in human rights in North Korea since 2005 when I first started my career as the Program Officer for Human Rights in North Korea Project at Freedom House, Inc. in Washington, D.C. Currently, I am practicing law and began to serve as Chief Executive Officer for the North Korea Strategy Center U.S., Inc. I am so glad that I can actively participate in this history-changing movement for the people of North Korea!
You were involved in the early stages of the North Korean Human Rights movement in 2005. In your opinion, how has the movement grown since then? What has changed?
Back in 2005, the seriousness of human rights situation in North Korea was not publicized enough among even civic groups and international organizations. Therefore, we had focused on raising public awareness of the human rights crisis in the North and tried to get attention of the world media to widely publicize the human rights situation in North Korea. Since then, the NKHR Movement has grown dramatically from scratch to even the recent United Nations Commission on Inquiry on the human rights situation in North Korea! The level of outside world’s understanding of NKHR has risen substantially and the professionalism and research capacity of many NKHR civic groups have grown tremendously. One more change that I observed is the growing number of young North Korean defector leaders who have received a good education in the Western world.
There are many organizations who work towards improving the human rights conditions of North Korea. How is NKSC different?
Yes, there are many organizations working towards improving the human rights conditions of North Korea. NKSC is uniquely positioned as a North Korean defector-led organization which is led by the strong leadership of the world-renowned prison camp survivor, Mr. Kang, Cheol Hwan. His triumphant stories are ever inspiring not only audience of his speech but also our NKSC team. Additionally, NKSC has established a worldwide network of young activists who care for the people of North Korea. The culture of NKSC is also very dynamic, vibrant and democratic which I am enjoying the most!
What would you like to see more from NKSC?
I would like to see many future leaders for Korean Peninsula and world human rights fields emerge from their exposure and experiences through NKSC. Especially, I would like to see internationally diverse human rights activists will grow up from their experiences from both NKSC Korea and NKSC US.
What do you envision for the future of the North Korean human rights movement? In the year 2020, how will North Korea change? In the year 2030?
I would like to say that all people who are interested in the North Korean human rights movement should be a bit patient. It has taken more than a decade to arrive where we are now in the NKHR movement. The human rights movement is about people, not political system or economy. It usually takes such a long time to actually influence people and the human rights environment surrounding them together. However, I do hope we will see some human rights organization starts working within North Korea in 2020. In the year 2030? I don’t know but I definitely know that I want to visit Pyongyang freely by then and enjoy freedom with people of North Korea. Thank you!
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