The Echo Never Stops 

낯선 말, 표현의 그림자

The North Korean Human Rights Museum aims to shed light on the human rights situation in North Korea and encourage dialogue on remedies. 

We also strive to give the public a tangible understanding of the hardships faced by the North Korean people.

Open Monday-Friday 10:00am-06:00pm

(Closed on public holidays, there may be changes in the schedule

Special Tour Request / Group Tours:


North Korean Human Rights Museum Exhibition Hall 

3rd Floor, 14, Gyeonghuigung-gil, Jongo-gu, Seoul

Admission Fee: Free

This project was sponsored through a grant from the Ministry of Unification

Introduction / Exhibition and Archive

\ 낯선 말 <Strange words> 

refers to the “strange words” North Korean people encounter for the first time from external information entering North Korea and depicts the unfamiliar emotions experienced by them when confronted with `words` infiltrating their society from the outside 

\ 표현의 그림자 <Shadow of Expression>

signifies the reality of a controlled North Korean society where freedom of expression does not exist, where such freedom remains hidden.

표현을 할 수 있는 가장 기본적이고 근본적인 방법은 `말 (한자)` 

오직 인간만 구현할 수 있는 수단

(The most basic and fundamental way to express is `words`

A means that only humans can implement) 

We live in an era where we have transcended past times of pervasive state control and oppression, and now freely express our words and thoughts through various mediums. However, there exists a place where all these expressions are suppressed: North Korea.

    “I’m hungry”                             “I’m tired”

could lead to being labeled as a political criminal in North Korea.

“The freedom of expression” stipulates Article 19 of the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It includes the freedom to hold an opinion without external interference and the freedom to seek, receive, and convey information through any possible channel. 

Without any of these freedoms people become isolated and the voice of individuals is being silenced.

North Korea has long defined language as a tool for ideological revolution, tightly controlling it through indoctrination and monitoring. Therefore, North Korean people are not allowed to live the “Freedom of Expression” if their words are not in accordance with the North Korean system. Simple words, spoken everyday, in some cases carelessly spoken, are directly linked to the very premise of human rights which is the “Freedom to Live”.

The exhibition addresses the concept of “freedom of expression”, with a particular focus on `words` and seeks to answer a simple question:

“Why can’t one speak freely in North Korea?”

The Archives

The United Nations and North Korean Human Rights

In 2003, the UN Commission on Human Rights (now referred to as “Human Rights Council”) started to concern North Korean Human Rights, including the “Freedom of Expression” and began adopting resolutions in the General Assembly. Until today resolutions on North Korean Human Rights are frequently adopted showing the international consensus on the significance of this topic.

Ten years later, on March 21, 2013, the UN Human Rights Council issued the resolution leading to the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the DPRK (North Korea). This marked the foundation of the first permanent UN body that was authorized to investigate the North Korean human rights situation with the international community’s mandate.

The following year, the General Assembly’s Resolution 69/188 accepted the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in the DPRK. The report highlighted severe human rights violations and systematic crimes against humanity committed by the North Korean government. The “Freedom of Expression” is one amongst many violated basic human rights in North Korea.

The North Korean government, however, rejected the recommendations given by the COI on Human Rights in the DPRK that would have also led to the improvement of the right to express oneself freely for North Korean people.

The Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB)


NKDB was established in 2003 with the goal of improving human rights in North Korea, pursuing accountability, and providing relief to victims.

In the sense of the exhibition, the work of NKDB can be described as a collection of words directly coming from North Korean escapees who have resettled in South Korea. As of September 2023, NKDB has conducted interviews with 19,655 escapees and collected testimonies from over 55,000 individuals that have resulted in the documentation of over 86,000 incidents of human rights violations. 

Evidently, words that have been restricted to come out in North Korea now hold the most important key for documenting human rights violations and holding perpetrators accountable in the future. 

Going through the first part of the exhibition, visitors are provided copies of the aforementioned UN resolutions, NKDB’s archived testimonies and past reports as well as books written by North Korean escapees as a way of making their words heard on paper.

/ PART 1 to 3 of the Museum

> Donation

Thank you to all who have expressed interest in North Korean Human Rights and visited the North Korean Human Rights Museum website! Your support means a lot to us. We are committed to continuing projects like this to increase public awareness of the North Korean Human Rights issue and potentially launch another exhibition focusing on other important aspects of North Korean human rights.

At NKDB, we rely on public donations to support our efforts. Your contribution can make a significant difference in further developing and enhancing our research. Whether it's a one-time donation or a monthly commitment, every contribution matters. 

Thank you for considering donating to support our cause.