Theses Master's

North Korean Women and Victimhood: Selling Legitimacy and Shaping Advocacy

Hong, Yoona

This thesis investigates the victim narrative as it is utilized by the organizations Liberty in North Korea, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Crossing Borders, and Helping Hands Korea to depict North Korean refugee women as valid sufferers unable to exercise their agency. This project analyzes how and why the aforementioned organizations are using this victim trope to craft a marketable and legitimate recipient that deserves recognition and aid from their audiences. It questions how the use of this convention is informed by institutional need and debates regarding trafficking and sex work by scrutinizing the use of key phrases and words in films, reports, campaigns, and websites and relating the findings to relevant literature. Through this line of questioning, this thesis is able to argue that the widespread use of the victim narrative is not coincidental, but an advantageous strategy employed by organizations working with North Korean women to navigate polarized opinions and help ensure institutional survival.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Cronin, Bruce L.
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2019