Database of those taken by North Korea

Victims documented

Disappearances recorded in our database

FOOTPRINTS is a joint civil society project to document and publish information concerning reported cases of arbitrary detention, abduction and enforced disappearances committed in and by North Korea, including the victims, perpetrators, proceedings to seek redress, relevant human rights instruments and North Korean resources. The open, accessible and searchable online database also provides relational and geospatial information to the users.

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Korean War

For the years 1950 and 1951, FOOTPRINTS documents 88996 and 3158 civilian victims respectively.

While there are 9 registered victims from 1949, it is highly likely that they are victims from the Korean War.

Victims by year

Pre-Kim Jong Un

Since the 1950s, North Korea has taken control over its people by instilling fear and imprisoning those who speak up against the regime in political prison camps (kwan-li-so) without any form of notification.North Korea’s policy of abducting foreign citizens was executed by Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il with a purpose of “localizing” North Korean agents with foreign language and culture to better execute espionage plans.

This era does not include the years from 1950 to 1953.

Victims by year

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un took on the role as the supreme leader in December 2011. Based on strengthened control of “anti-state or anti-nation activities” and other political crimes, the number of undocumented cases of enforced disappearance that occurred during this regime outweighs the cases documented in FOOTPRINTS.

Victims by year

If the entire family were sent to a political prison camp (kwan-li-so), you just know the Ministry of State Security (bo-wi-bu) was behind it.

— Testimony on a missing nephew

When an individual or an entire family disappears overnight, it is commonly understood in North Korea that the disappeared are taken by the Ministry of State Security (bo-wi-bu) to a political prison camp (kwan-li-so).

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The Ministry of State Security (bo-wi-bu) told [my sister] to keep quiet and stop looking for [her husband] then… they told her “Even if he is alive, he is as good as dead. Stop looking for him.

— Testimony on a missing brother-in-law

Once people are taken to a political prison camp (kwan-li-so), their families are discouraged from searching their fate and whereabouts. This became so commonplace that many victims’ families give up looking for their loved ones.

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Where the Disappearances took place



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This map is only a partial representation of the data in this database.

Latest proceedings

On behalf of victims’ families, we submit communications to UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).

Kim Jang-Yeol C0096046 (UN WGEID)


Lee Hak-Su v. North Korea (WGAD)


Seo Seung-Geun C0096073 (UN WGEID)


Lee Gi-Seol C0096033 (UN WGEID)



Read more about TJWG’s approach to documenting crime of enforced disappearance.

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Contact TJWG

Need to get in touch with us? Fill out the form with your inquiry or a disappearance case you want to report.

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