History Human Rights Southeast Asia

Dealing with Khmer and North Korean Killers

As the first sentence is finally handed out to a former member of the Khmer Rouge regime, it reminds us of a human rights catastrophe still in progress.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about the history of Cambodia, including the nightmare under the Khmer Rouge, but this is a reminder that someday (may it be very soon), decisions made today will determine the fate of many now running the regime in North Korea.

The details and issues addressed in South Korea’s pending North Korean Human Rights Act* will help shape how the process attempting to achieve some sort of justice plays out and which SK government agencies will be responsible for what between now and then (eg, properly interviewing, recording, and storing witness testimony for later prosecution). For a discussion of some of the “details and issues”, see this post from last year.

Obviously, other factors (how the regime falls and neighboring countries’ roles in that and the aftermath) will be involved in what happens to the perpetrators of mass human rights violations in the North, but to the extent it has a say, South Korea, needs to awaken from its apathy now to be ready later.

If there ever is an attempted reunification, as Vitit Muntarbhorn said on this very topic at the PSCORE seminar this spring, “If you don’t know the truth, you cannot heal properly.“ (this quote came at 4:42, but he starts talking about the NKHR bill around 1:36)

Let us hope the North Korean people won’t have to wait 30 years after liberation for their shot in court!

*For those of you in Seoul, there will be a seminar Wednesday on the pending NKHR bill:

A Second Discussion on North Korean Issues and Policy

Subject: How Shall We Proceed with the NK Human Rights Bill?
When: Wed., July 28th, 2-4pm
Where: National Assembly — Constitutional Memorial Hall, 2nd Floor, Large Lecture Hall (헌정기념관 2층대강당)
Sponsored by: National Assemly Human Rights Forum and the Association of NK Human Rights Organizations (ANKHRO)
북한인권문제정책협의회 제2차 북한인권토론회

주제: 북한인권법 어떻게 할 것인가?
주최: 국회인권포럼 ,북한인권단체연합회
일시: 7월 28일(수) 오후2시~4시
장소: 국회의사당 헌정기념관 2층대강당

☞ 오시는 길
[9호선 국회의사당역 하차] 1번, 5번 출구로 나와 도보 이용
[5호선 여의도역 하차] 5번 출구, 버스 162, 261, 262, 461번
[1호선 대방역] 360, 363번 버스 이용
[1호선 영등포역] 5615, 5618번 버스 이용


  1. The guy who was convicted was directly involved in the death of more than 10,000 people and he got much less than life in prison, and the sentence is more than 20 years after the fact. Is this justice? I guess its better than nothing, but its pretty close to it if you ask me.


  2. They are saying 19 years in prison if that.

    I confess, I do not know alot about Cambodia either so I did some googling and then added this into my Netflix Queue:

    S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003)


    “If you don’t know the truth, you cannot heal properly.”

    Reminds me of:

    “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32



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