The following resolution was adopted by the IADL Council meeting, in virtual session, on 7 February 2021:


The International Association of Democratic Lawyers condemns the South Korean government’s illegal and unreasonable detention of Kim Ryon-hee (Kim Ryon Hui), a citizen of North Korea, and call for her immediate repatriation.

IADL urges the South Korean government not to prolong the pain and misfortune of North Korean citizen Kim Ryon-Hee, who is kept forcibly separated from her family in North Korea, as well as the plight of other similarly situated North Korean restaurant employees, who were kidnapped and are now forced to remain in South Korea. Instead, we urge the government of South Korea to engage in inter-Korean dialogue to resolve the issue of repatriation of North Korean citizens as quickly as possible.


Not only has the South Korean government refused to repatriate Kim Ryon-Hee, it filed an indictment against her on December 26, 2020, accusing her of violations of the National Security Law (NSL) for her efforts to return to North Korea. This unjust indictment violates Kim Ryon-Hee’s right to return to her country, North Korea, a right guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further international covenants on human rights.

IADL views Kim Ryon-Hee’s prosecution under the NSL as a violation of her human rights. Ms. Kim Ryon-Hee has engaged in efforts to return to her hometown due to the actions of the South Korean government preventing her return. The indictment engages in an unreasonable argument that her efforts to return home endanger the security of South Korea by benefiting North Korea, when she is in fact seeking family reunification with her loved ones. Accordingly, we strongly urge the South Korean prosecutors to immediately withdraw these charges against her.

IADL considers that the fundamental cause of this injustice is the divisions created by the Cold War system, including the actions of the South Korean government, investigative agencies, judiciary and prosecution to detain Kim Ryon-Hee, refuse to return her to North Korea, and prosecute her under the National Security Law. The NSL itself is an anachronistic Cold War relic that defines North Korea not as another state but as an “anti-state organization.” As a result, this law hinders efforts to promote reconciliation and peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. We urge the South Korean government to repeal the National Security Law.

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers reaffirms its long-standing position in favor of peace, dialogue and unity on the Korean peninsula. The South Korean government must take steps to reconcile with North Korea and engage in dialogue in North Korea in order to achieve peace for all.

7 February 2021




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