Yoonjeong You is a junior scholar of the Wilson center. Her research project is "Are North Korean Defectors ‘Real’ Refugees?: Focusing on “Persecution” under the Three Kims’ Regimes." Her specific interests lie on refugee and human rights issues of North Korea and the Middle East, and she recently published a paper about the Jordanian refugee policy. Before joining the center, You worked as a research assistant at human rights institutes, such as SSK Human Rights Center and Asia Democracy Network, and did internships at refugee-related NGOs, such as APIL and Human Asia. You graduated from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, majoring in Arabic and International Studies. She is currently a M.A. student of the Department of International Development and Cooperation at Korea University, Republic of Korea. Her dissertation is going to be about environmental refugees.

Project Summary

While a great volume of research shows North Korean defectors are refugee sur place, focusing on no other initial situation within North Korea before fleeing than situations after fleeing, whether the North Korean defectors are traditional refugees or not is still in question. This study argues that North Korean defectors are not refugee sur place but refugee in the traditional concept embedded in the 1951 Convention due to ‘persecution.’ There are two groups among North Korean people; the ruling class and the deprived. According to the Definition of Persecution by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the 1951 Convention as frameworks of this research, persecution means ‘a threat to freedom.’ This freedom is well embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). With these analytical tools, this study will categorize and explain human rights based on freedom, taking on a rights-based approach.

Major Publications

"Once Resolved, Stay Resolved? The Refugee Policy of Jordan toward Palestinian Refugees"