Friday, October 30, 2015



Can North Korea's Kim family leader-based system survive another five years?

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2015—North Korea’s hardline regime may not be on the brink of collapse, but its fate will remain uncertain, with the possibility of collapse ever present, according to a 350-page report released today by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a nonprofit organization.

Stephan Haggard, Krause Distinguished Professor at the Graduate School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California San Diego, said: "Ken Gause looks more closely at the North Korean leadership than anyone. North Korean House of Cards is far and away the most comprehensive analysis of the North Korean succession that we have to date."

Andrew Natsios, HRNK Co-Chair Emeritus, former USAID Administrator and Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the The Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M, noted: "North Korean House of Cards is the most comprehensive and definitive analysis of the intrigue and instability inside the North Korean regime. Gause has done a great service to human rights advocates, policy makers and North Korea watchers in amassing enough evidence to draw a picture of Kim Jong Un's uncertain hold on political power, which could lead to dangerous consequences if the regime begins to unravel."

“If you want to know who is who in the mafia-like crime family cult known as the Kim Family Regime, read North Korean House of Cards,” said Professor David Maxwell, Associate Director of the Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, and a member of the Board of Directors at HRNK.

Patrick M. Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director, Asia-Pacific Program at the Center for a New American Security, underlined that “Ken Gause's surgical dissection of North Korean elites and decision-making is a triumph of painstaking research and keen analytical judgment. Kim Jong-un has consolidated power to preserve a totalitarian system of governance. After detailing Kim's systematic dismantling of a regent system designed to smoothen his transition, including the purge of uncle Jang Song-taek, Gause ends with a profound question: can the Kim family leader-based system survive another five years?”

According to author Ken Gause, “While Kim Jong-un, as the Suryong or the Supreme Leader, is no doubt the ultimate authority in the regime, in order to understand his worldview, one really needs to understand that there are people around him who may provide advice and have some influence on him. Unless you grasp the dynamics between those individuals and the relationships they have with the Supreme Leader, you cannot really understand the Supreme Leader, his worldview, or how decision-making is done inside North Korea.”

North Korean House of Cards: Leadership Dynamics under Kim Jong-un shows that “crimes against humanity and other egregious human rights violations do not happen in a vacuum in North Korea,” said HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu. “They span almost seven decades and are an intrinsic part of the Kim regime’s modus operandi.

North Korean House of Cards significantly contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms, lines of responsibility, and individuals liable for the crimes committed in North Korea. HRNK Co-Chair Emeritus Roberta Cohen pointed out that “understanding the dynamics of a regime that makes crimes against humanity state policy is essential to the international prosecution of the Kim family and those who carry out its orders. Those in the security sector, the prison sector, and other departments directly perpetrating human rights abuses will surely be put on notice by this study.”

In 2014, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry concluded that grave, systematic, and widespread human rights abuses amounting to “crimes against humanity have been committed” in North Korea, “pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state.” The tightly closed, nuclear-armed communist regime rejects such accusations, which it regards as part of a U.S.-led effort to overthrow it.

The report launch will be held from 9:30 to 11:00 am on Friday, October 30, at the National Press Club, Holeman Lounge, 13th Floor Main Level, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20045. Complimentary copies of the book will be provided to all participants. If you plan on attending, send your RSVP to Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs: The publication is also available on HRNK’s website: HRNK.ORG.

HRNK was founded in 2001 as nonprofit research organization dedicated to documenting human rights conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as North Korea is formally known. An estimated 400,000 people are believed to have died in the country’s system of political prison camps, while another 120,000 are imprisoned there now. Visit to find more about HRNK and download “North Korean House of Cards” along with previous publications.


Contact: Greg Scarlatoiu, executive.director@hrnk.org202-499-7973

Board of Directors

Katrina Lantos Swett (Co-Chair)
President and CEO,
Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice

Gordon Flake (Co-Chair)
Chief Executive Officer, Perth USAsia Centre,
The University of Western Australia
Co-author, Paved with Good Intentions:
The NGO Experience in North Korea

John Despres (Co-Vice-Chair)
Consultant on International Financial & Strategic Affairs

Suzanne Scholte (Co-Vice-Chair)
Defense Forum Foundation
Seoul Peace Prize Laureate

Helen-Louise Hunter (Secretary)
Author, Kim Il-Song’s North Korea

Kevin C. McCann (Treasurer)
General Counsel, StrataScale, Inc.
Counsel, SHI International Corp.

Roberta Cohen (Co-Chair Emeritus)
Non-Resident Senior Fellow,
Brookings Institution
Specializing in Humanitarian and Human Rights Issues

Andrew Natsios (Co-Chair Emeritus)
Former Administrator,
U.S. Agency for International Development
Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs
Executive Professor, The Bush School of Government & Public Service,
Texas A&M University
Author of The Great North Korean Famine

Morton Abramowitz
Senior Fellow,
The Century Foundation

Jerome Cohen
Co-Director, US-Asia Law Institute,
NYU Law School
Adjunct Senior Fellow,
Council on Foreign Relations

Lisa Colacurcio
Advisor, Impact Investments

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean,
Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles

Jack David
Senior Fellow,
Hudson Institute
Paula Dobriansky
Chair, World Affairs Council of America
Adjunct Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,
Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University
Distinguished National Security Chair,
U.S. Naval Academy

Nicholas Eberstadt
Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy,
American Enterprise Institute
Author of books on North Korea, including North Korea in Transition: Politics, Economy, and Society

Carl Gershman
National Endowment for Democracy

Stephen Kahng
Kahng Foundation

David Kim
The Asia Foundation

Debra Liang-Fenton
U.S. Institute of Peace
Former Executive Director, HRNK

Winston Lord
Former Assistant Secretary for East Asia,
Department of State
Former Ambassador to China
Director of Policy Planning Staff,
Department of State
Former President,
Council on Foreign Relations
Former Chairman,
National Endowment for Democracy

David Maxwell
Associate Director,
Center for Security Studies and the Security Studies Program, Georgetown University
Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Marcus Noland
Executive Vice President and Director of Studies,
Peterson Institute for International Economics
Author of books on North Korea including Avoiding the Apocalypse: the Future of the Two Koreas

Jacqueline Pak
George Washington University

Executive Director

Greg Scarlatoiu

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