2022 has arrived.
I would first like to express my gratitude to all members of the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights, who remain dedicated despite the difficult environment and conditions, as well as our domestic and foreign sponsors and members who continuously provide endless love and support.
2021 passed by in a chaotic manner amid the chaos of COVID-19 continuing from 2020. The phrases "Living with Corona" and "post-Corona" have become commonplace, and virtualization and digitalization demand new thinking and lifestyles in all areas of our lives. In addition, the adverse effects of COVID-19 have had a great impact on the lives and ability to defect of the North Korean people, their isolation now more serious than ever.
This has also resulted in making it more difficult to collect new data and information on the human rights situation. In addition, the publication of the White Paper on North Korean Human Rights, one of NKDB's core publications, has been suspended as the collection of human rights violation cases through in-person contact with North Korean defectors continues to be blocked since 2020. However, all members of NKDB have worked together to revise and supplement the data found in the White Papers published thus far, and by the end of 2021, we had compiled a database containing 80,000 cases and 50,000 individuals involved through analysis of social survey data and literature.
While able to conduct in-person classes twice in the first and second half of the year, the Education Center for Korean Integration successfully finished all planned Academies and held the award ceremonies as scheduled. In particular, in the second half of the year, the newly established Unification Law Academy was launched and successfully carried out. In 2022, we are planning to establish Academies in the form of seasonal semesters while continuing to promote and solidify development of existing Academy operations. Beginning with the North Korean Education Academy in January, the North Korean Religious Academy will be launched, and based on the results of the pilot programs, the Education Center for Korean Integration will cover even more diverse areas and topics in the future.
In 2021, there were also notable achievements that contributed greatly to elevating our status. One was the launch of the NKDB Human Rights Scholarship Association. Through the fundraising of the NKDB Board of Directors and auditors, which incidentally began to support scholarships for researchers at NKDB, consensus grew that it should not end as a one-time event, instead expanding the scope of funding not only to NKDB researchers, but to North Korean human rights workers and North Korean defectors as well.
The other was the opening of the NKDB Human Rights Violation Support Center. It began with the recognition that it was necessary not only to record and preserve cases of human rights violations, but also to actively support direct relief for damage to those North Korean people who have experienced human rights violations. I would like to express my gratitude to Lee Jae-hwa, Chairman of the Scholarship Committee, and Yoon Seung-hyeon, the head of the center, who are working hard and bear heavy responsibility. In addition, the West Gyeonggi Hana Center, which is responsible for supporting and sponsoring the smooth resettlement and independence of North Korean defectors, will continue to operate for the next three years. We hope that the West Gyeonggi Hana Center will be able to continue to fulfill its role as a place of comfort for North Korean defectors as well a new home in their hearts. I want to sincerely thank all the members of the Hana Center for all their hard work despite the difficult circumstances.
The situation in 2022 does not seem like it will be much brighter. The year 2022 is also expected to be turbulent and chaotic beyond our expectations and current predictions. As it continues to become more chaotic, the more imperative it is that we gather our wisdom and strength and move forward into the future.
I pray for everyone's health and well-being, and I wish for you to have a hopeful 2022.
Happy New Year!
NKDB Chairman of the Board of Directors
January 1, 2022