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Who is Ultimately Responsible for Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea? – NK Watch Briefing Session on the Suryong Dictatorship Mechanism

On this coming Tuesday, July 25th, 2023, NK Watch (Myeongchul Ahn, Executive Director), a non-profit advocating for North Korean human rights, along with the NDI (National Democratic Institute), is to hold a briefing session on North Korean Crimes Against Humanity for the international community including foreign correspondents, diplomats and non-profit organizations. NK Watch has completed a research project titled, “The Suryong Dictatorship Mechanism: Who Is Ultimately Responsible for Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea?” with the support of the NDI which began in the second half of 2022.

NK Watch worked with Korea Analysis & Strategy Consultancy (KAS), a non-profit which specializes in North Korean research and policy consulting, to collect confidential documents produced by the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea including Kim Jong Un’s Approved Policy Documents. The project researchers identified North Korea as a dictatorship in which all power is concentrated on the North Korean leader known as the “supreme leader” or the “suryong” based on the aforementioned data and in-depth interviews with high-ranking North Korean defectors. The research report containing these details has been translated in to English in order to be shared with the international community and will be released after the relaunch of NK Watch’s website ( is completed in August, 2023.

According to Kwanhyung Lee, Program Director, who was in charge of the research project, “many members of the international community were aware that North Korea was a Suryong dictatorship, but the mechanism is very complex and sophisticated making it difficult to understand in detail.” He says that he was able to reaffirm that the ultimate responsibility for the North Korean crimes against humanity lies with the suryong as the fundamental cause and structure stems from the dictatorship. Also, Executive Director Myeongchul Ahn has emphasized that over the past 10 years, NK Watch has collected and documented evidence and identified witnesses to substantiate the execution of accountability. This report, along with the evidence and testimonies, will serve as a critical link to shed light on why Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un are key suspects and the ultimate responsible figures for crimes against humanity. Moving forward, NK Watch will utilize these crucial pieces of evidence to take one step closer to the final goal of accountability.

This briefing is to be held at the Grape Lounge on the 25th of July, located in Jung-gu, Seoul and will be conducted by Jiwon Yang, Project Officer of the NDI Seoul Office (Hyungmo Kim, Country Representative). The program consists of briefings on the report by Dr. Kwanhyung Lee and Dr. In Su Kwak (Executive Director of KAS Consultancy, Former Senior Research Fellow, Institute for National Security Strategy) and a presentation on the changes in North Korean political prison camps by Ahn Myeongchul. NK Watch marks its 20th anniversary of operating as a civil society organization advocating for North Korean human rights after being founded by survivors of North Korean political prison camps.

※ Members of the media may film or photograph the event speakers, but we kindly ask that they refrain from filming or photographing other attendees.


Briefing Program

Executive Summary

Promotional Poster

View Report