To download the publication click here.

The North Korean Archives Project explores the archives of former communist secret police agencies and compiles information on North Korea kept in these. The 2018 publication focuses on Polish archives and includes a full index covering all documents which mention North Korea starting from the 1950s and up through the 1990s. The report also includes three articles using the sources for analysis on Orphans of the Korean War; the relation between Poland and North Korea in the post-war period; as well as the military capability of North Korea. Though the current project publication only accounts for the Polish archives, the project aims to expand itself to other former communist state in the future.

The project is brought to life through the joined efforts of the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR) and the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN). It currently consists of the recent publication and an accompanying website.

The Goal of the North Korean Archives Project

The project authors, Deputy Director General of NKHR Joanna Hosaniak and Director of IPN Rafał Leśkiewicz, highlight the use of these sources in the study of the North Korean regime and their State Security Agency. Both of which continue to play a key role in committed crimes against humanity documented by the 2014 UN COI.

Joanna Hosaniak and Rafał Leśkiewicz continue:

We also hope that this project will have a spill-over effect to spark interest more broadly in understanding this history, including among academic institutions, especially in South Korea where such studies lack behind. We hope that it will be helpful to parties pursuing future accountability in North Korea, in particular NGOs and the UN. Most importantly, we hope that this project will help victims of North Korean human rights violations and their families to seek historical truth in the future.”

Uses of the Archives

Overall the project presents itself useful in the general study of North Korea, human rights documentation, and to the research seeking justice for victims of the North Korean regime. The authors explain how the archive could provide: “contextual information on patterns of institutional criminality in North Korea” to fill out gaps in currently obtained evidence and enhance accountability, all of which ties in with the main goal. Other mentioned purposes include training of South Korean specialists in analysing a communist apparatus; analysing the military and security structures of North Korea; and obtaining insight in the ethics of the regime concerning the value of human life.

Access to the Archives

The index provided by the project contains an identifier for the IPN Archives. It would therefore be a good place to start for anyone interested in finding sources for their research. All files at the IPN except those classified top secret can be accessed by researchers upon application bearing a seal from a scientific institution. Journalists may also request access with written authorization from their editor or publisher.

Last Updated: February 20, 2019

Author: Christina E. Olesen