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Date : September 24, 2013
Launch of the Lawyers for Human Rights and Unification of Korea
On September 10, 2013, the LHUK held its inaugural meeting at Seoul Lawyers’ Educational Cultural Center (located at Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, the Republic of Korea). The LHUK is a lawyers’ group that desires to improve human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK”) and contribute to the unification of Korea. This is the first group consisting of only lawyers seeking to improve human rights in the DPRK and to prepare the peaceful unification of Korea.
Tae-Hoon Kim was appointed as the Permanent Representative of the LHUK, who was a former Seoul Central District Court senior judge and also was a commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea as well as the chairman of the special sub-committee for human rights in the DPRK. Dong-Hyeon Seok was appointed as the co-representative of the LHUK, who was the former Chief Prosecutor of the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office.
There are 100 members who make up the group, consisting of senior lawyers such as Yong-Woo Lee, the former Justice of the Supreme Court, Ki-Heung Cheon, the former chairman of the Korean Bar Association, Seung-Kyu Kim, the former chief of the National Intelligence Service, Woo-Keun Lee, the former chief judge of the Seoul Central District Court, and Jong-Bin Kim, the former Public Prosecutor General.
Although numerous civic and religious groups have worked to improve human rights in the DPRK, only a handful of lawyers have attempted to remedy the situation through legal action. Under these circumstances, it is meaningful for our society to have the LHUK lead the way for the successful unification of the country and to lay the cornerstone for all future human rights improvements in the DPRK.
Mr. Kim, the Permanent Representative said, “Although many North Korea human rights groups have carried out various social movements to improve human rights in the DPRK, the LHUK will adopt a legal approach to substantially improve conditions in the DPRK. He also emphasized, “We need to expressly disclose that the infringement of human rights in the DPRK shall be a violation of International Norms on Human Rights and be considered as crimes against humanity. This action will expose the current situation of infringement of human rights in the DPRK to the international community such as the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI).
Furthermore, the LHUK will seek the enactment of the North Korean Human Rights Act (“NKHRA”) which has been sitting idle in the National Assembly for the last nine (9) years. Second, it will attempt to resolve the various North Korean human rights violations such as prisoners of the Korean War (POWs), civilian abductees, North Korean refugees, and families separated when Korea was divided in 1953. Finally, the LHUK will research and study fundamental legal and social systems for the united Korea.
The LHUK has been preparing for its official launch since January 2013 and has filed a constitutional complaint against the National Assembly for the delay of the enactment of the NKHRA on April 25, 2013. On June 3, it filed a claim for compensation against the Korean government on behalf of families of POWs. Further, on July 11, the LHUK filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask for the disclosure of information related to government protocol on North Korean defectors. Also, on August 12, it held a press conference to hear a North Korean defector’s testimony of the secret executions in the DPRK for the first time in the world and have submitted the NGO reports on the human rights in the DPRK to the UN Human Rights Council for the 19th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on September 3, 2013.
Since July 13, 2013, they have gathered many sympathetic lawyers and held a projectors’ meeting on August 28 where they finalized the articles of incorporation and elected executives. Finally, the LHUK inaugural meeting was held on September 10, 2013.

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