Institute for Corean-American Studies

Norbert Vollertsen

Nobert Vollertsen, a German physician, joined a medical assistance group called German Emergency Doctors and was sent to North Korea in the summer of 1999. Norbert worked at several hospitals, orphanages and kindergartens in and around the capital city of Pyongyang. Then one day he offered to donate his own skin for a graft for a burn victim. As a result, Norbert was awarded a "Friendship Medal" and given his own car and a VIP passport that allowed him to travel freely through the country. What he saw shocked him. The people had no water, no medicine, no sanitation. Eight and nine year old children were forced to work at night to build a "Youth Hero Motorway." Mass starvation was used as a tool of political control. People everywhere were under surveillance, informed on by their own family members. Those who tried to flee over the Chinese border or dissented from this brutal regime, particularly Christians, were tortured in concentration camps. When he tried to show foreign journalists what he had discovered, he was harassed by the North Korean government and finally deported at the end of 2001. Norbert now works as a human rights activist in Seoul, South Korea.

ICAS Web Site Links for Norbert Vollertsen:

Human Rights Issues: The Case of North Korea
2003 Fall Symposium
South Korea's Spoilers

This page last updated 11/3/2003 jdb

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