Chairman Royce hears from North Korean defectors Choi Jeong-hun, Cha Ri-hyuk, and Park Sang-hak

This week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) met with North Korean defectors to hear directly from men and women who have suffered under the Kim regime’s cruel and abusive rule.  Despite great personal risk, these brave individuals detailed their personal stories and their work to help empower other North Koreans.

Today North Korea remains a house of horrors.  An estimated 120,000 people covering three generations – including children – are subjected to backbreaking labor and torture in the regime’s prison camps.  And life for ordinary North Koreans isn’t much better.  They are denied even the most basic human rights.  There is no freedom of speech.  No freedom of assembly, or protest, or religion.  Some defectors have said they were even denied the right to smile.

So as we look to address growing and urgent threats from the Kim Jong Un regime, it is clear that a strong human rights focus must be part of the strategy.  Human rights abuses that “shock the conscience of humanity” must end.  And to do that, we must help empower North Korean defectors, like the brave people who met with Chairman Royce this week, to expose the truth.

“As the author of legislation that permanently authorized Radio Free Asia, I know full well the power of breaking despotic regimes’ monopoly on information,” said Chairman Royce.  Thankfully, while the Kim regime’s wall blocking outside information once looked impenetrable, we’re beginning to see cracks to exploit.  One report found 16 percent of North Koreans accessed computers, one-fourth of them listened to radio broadcasts, and 42 percent of defectors reported having access to DVD players.

We need to continue to give platforms to defectors so that the North Korean people can hear the true, draconian nature of the Kim regime.

Chairman Royce is presented with a portrait made in and smuggled out of North Korea