Human Rights Activism Among North Korean Refugees in the UK: Hope for a Democratic Future?

Authors: Lim, H.J.

Journal: Journal of Human Rights and Social Work

eISSN: 2365-1792

DOI: 10.1007/s41134-021-00183-z

Abstract:

Social work plays a crucial role in defending the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from systems of oppression. This paper explores the meanings and challenges of human rights activism and its driving forces among North Korean refugees in the UK. The data are drawn from life history interviews with 10 participants, together with two activists’ public speeches. The findings suggest that gaining awareness of human rights after their escape had significant implications for the activists, giving meaning to their life and sparking on their activism. Simultaneously, they expressed misconceptions and criticisms from other fellow North Korean refugees as one of the greatest difficulties they encountered in their work. I argue that to overcome such challenges human rights activism requires altruism and a creative imagination that envisions better future lives for other North Korean people. Based on this, I propose altruistic political imagination (API) as a concept that captures North Korean activists’ experiences, built on Passy’s (2001) notion of political altruism, to put emphasis on the visionary aspect of their activism. I maintain that the concept of API potentially has a wider appeal to those activists who face similar situations to North Korean activists, as well as social work practitioners who work with forced migrants and/or marginalised communities.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/35618/

Source: Scopus

Human rights activism among North Korean refugees in the UK: Hope for a democratic future?

Authors: Lim, H.-J.

Journal: Journal of Human Rights and Social Work

Abstract:

Social work plays a crucial role in defending the human rights of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees from systems of oppression. This paper explores the meanings and challenges of human rights activism and its driving forces among North Korean refugees in the UK. The data are drawn from life history interviews with ten participants, together with two activists’ public speeches. The findings suggest that gaining awareness of human rights after their escape had significant implications for the activists, giving meaning to their life and sparking on their activism. Simultaneously, they expressed misconceptions and criticisms from other fellow North Korean refugees as one of the greatest difficulties they encountered in their work. I argue that to overcome such challenges human rights activism requires altruism and a creative imagination that envisions better future lives for other North Korean people. Based on this, I propose Altruistic Political Imagination (API) as a concept that captures North Korean activists’ experiences, built on Passy’s (2001) notion of political altruism, to put emphasis on the visionary aspect of their activism. I maintain that the concept of API potentially has a wider appeal to those activists who face similar situations to North Korean activists, as well as social work practitioners who work with forced migrants and/or marginalised communities.

http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/35618/

Source: Manual