Coordinated by the human rights groups UN Watch and Freedom House, Dr. Oh Kil Nam testified before the U.N. Human Rights Council, seeking to rescue his family from arbitrary detention in North Korea. Following is his speech delivered on June 28, 2012 — and North Korea’s insulting reply.

I am truly honored to be here and to speak about my family, who have been detained in a North Korean political prison camp in Yoduk.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared that my wife, Shin Sook Ja, and our two daughters Hae Won and Kyu Won have been arbitrarily detained in North Korea since my two daughters were only 11 and 9 years old.

The only reason for their detention is that their father refused an order to kidnap two South Korean students and left North Korea.

Because of that, my family has spent almost three decades in a political prison camp; where unimaginable human rights violations are committed.

I have come here as a 70-year-old man to thank the UN for its concern, and also to tell you of my last wish: to embrace my wife and daughters,  if only once more.

Finally, I want to talk about the two hundred thousand innocent lives being wasted inside these political prison camps. With the exception of my family, the prisoners of these camps are totally nameless and faceless, and detained based on ‘guilt by association’.

They are all victims of arbitrary detention, torture, inhumane treatment, enslavement, severe deprivation of physical liberty, extermination, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, and so many other crimes against humanity.

I believe that the campaign to rescue my family is the first step to saving these two hundred thousand lives in the camps. With your concern and effort, we can save all the unknown daughters and sons from those dark places.

Thank you.


“I don’t feel it is necessary to comment on what was said by a speaker who spoke on behalf of Freedom House. However, I would like to emphasize that the allegation is none other than nonsense by a psychopath who was funded and instigated by the forces hostile to the DPRK [North Korea].”



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