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North Korean Defector to Testify at Hearing on Religious Freedom in North Korea

January 22, 2002

Lawrence J. Goodrich, Communications Director, (202) 523-3240, ext. 27

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent government agency advising the Administration and Congress, announced today the addition of Mrs. Soon-Ok Lee, a North Korean defector, to the list of witnesses to testify before the Commission Thursday. Mrs. Lee witnessed brutal treatment of Christians in North Korean labor camps. Her testimony will take place during the Commission's hearing on "Promoting Religious Freedom in North Korea." The hearing will examine religious persecution in North Korea and explore policy options for the U.S. government to improve the situation of religious people there. The hearing is scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. January 24 in the Longworth House Office Building, Room 1302, Washington, D.C.

The confirmed witnesses and schedule are as follows:

9:00-9:15 Welcome and Introductory Remarks by Michael K. Young, Chair

Panel I:

9:15-10:15Religious Freedom Conditions in North Korea

Norbert Vollertsen, former volunteer medical doctor in the DPRK

Sang-Chul Kim, Secretary General, Commission to Help North Korean Refugees

Soon-Ok Lee, North Korean defector and author of Eyes of the Tailless Animals


Panel II:

10:30-12:00 U.S. Policy Options for North Korea

Stephen Linton, Chairman, Eugene Bell Foundation

Donald Oberdorfer, Adjunct Professor, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University

Chuck Downs, Private consultant and author of Over the Lines

Jack Rendler, Vice Chairman, U.S. Committee on Human Rights in North Korea

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress." 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom




Michael K. Young,Chair

  • Felice D. Gaer, Firuz Kazemzadeh, Richard D. Land, Bishop William Francis Murphy, Leila Nadya Sadat, Nina Shea,The Hon. Charles R. Stith, The Hon. Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Steven T. McFarland, Executive Director