Seminar: North Korean Exile Activists and the Role of Refugees in Peace-Making


This is a listing of older East-West Center events (newer listed first).  See Events to get the list of current or upcoming events.

Brown Bag Seminar by Robert Huish and Betsy Kawamura

When: Dec 9 2014 - 12:00pm until Dec 9 2014 - 1:00pm
Where: John A. Burns Hall, Room #3012, East-West Center

Section 1: The Camp 14 Project
Shin Dong-hyuk is the only person we know of who was born into a North Korean labor camp and escaped. In March 2013, Dong-hyuk came to Dalhousie University to meet with a group of students, labeled the Camp 14 Project, who had organized to protest human rights violations in North Korea. Dong-hyuk told students and community members that he felt greater hope for the North Korean people from such student protests than he did from the actions of military officials and diplomats.  In this presentation Dr. Robert Huish will discuss why Dong-hyuk felt such hope. Universities are among the few institutions in society that allow for audacity, organization, dissent, and advocacy. History shows that universities have played an important role in fostering dissent and advocacy in society. In the case of human rights violations in North Korea, this opportunity has been greatly overlooked.  The story of Shin Dong-hyuk’s arrival at Dalhousie University and the efforts of the students in a class that encouraged activism as a practicum show us how professors and students can organize to make an enormous contribution to global challenges that perplex our society, and to be an important part of solving the human rights calamity in North Korea.
Section 2: The Role of North Korean Refugee Women in Peace-Making
While security issues in North Korea are globally prominent, the role of North Korean refugee women in peace-building is seldom discussed, with noticeable exclusion or “silencing” of the voices of survivors of sexual violence in order to clear the way for negotiations intended to bring about peace and stability. Over 70 percent of those fleeing the DPRK are women, with the majority being victims of sexual violence. Betsy Kawamura’s brief talk will be followed by the 9-minute documentary film “Under a Different Sky,” featuring Ji-hyun Park who left the DPRK to resettle in the UK. Ms. Kawamura will discuss global tools and efforts to enable North Korean refugee women to contribute to peacemaking by serving as peace negotiators, exposing rampant sexual violence in the closed regime and along the escape route to China.

Robert Huish is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Development Studies
at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  His research interests include global activism and resistance.  Human rights activism in North Korea is one of his current projects.  He was named one of Canada’s most innovative educators in the Globe and Mail’s “Our Time to Lead” series.

Betsy Kawamura is founder of Women4NonViolence in Peace and Conflict Zones (  Her presentations and workshops in Europe, Asia and in the USA have been geared toward empowering survivors of gender-based violence and severely marginalized groups, including refugees from North Korea for political engagement.  She was recently recognized with a “Hero Award” by Capital Finance International magazine in London for her work to empower North Korean refugees.

Primary Contact Info:
Name: Lillian Shimoda
Phone: 808.944.7557
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