Seoul Peace Prize

Home > Seoul Peace Prize > Laureates of the Seoul Peace Prize > Laureate 2008

Ms. Suzanne Scholte, was born in 1959 in Norwork, Connecticut and majored in English Literature at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

From the college days, Ms. Suzanne Scholte has shown keen interests in social issues and taken part in a number of volunteer activities. After starting her career as an adviser to a U.S. legislator, she became the president of the Defense Forum Foundation. Since then, as a human rights activist, she has been full-fledgedly engaged in a wide variety of activities to promote the human rights conditions of the underprivileged across the world.
From 1996, Ms. Suzanne Scholte began to actively work for the improvement of the human rights situations facing North Koreans after hearing about the atrocities facing the people of North Korea from those who fled the oppression of the dictatorial regime.

In April 1999, Ms. Suzanne Scholte organized the first U.S. Senate hearing on North Korea’s political prison camps. Ever since, she has revealed and made testimony to the human rights realities in North Korea and the miserable conditions facing the North Korean defectors in China, raising the international community’s awareness of the human rights violations facing North Koreans.

In 2003, in particular, she hosted the appearance of Mr. Jang-Yop Hwang, former secretary of the North Korean Labor Party, on Capital Hill, playing a key role in getting the realities of the Kim Jong-il regime across the United States and the rest of the world. These continued efforts of Ms. Suzanne Scholte to improve the human rights conditions of the North Korean people played a decisive role in achieving the unanimous passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act of 2004 in the U.S. Congress.

Ms. Suzanne Scholte chaired and organized the first North Korea Freedom Day in 2004 in Washington, D.C. to disclose the realities of the human rights conditions in North Korea and call for their improvement. Since then, this event has been held continuously.

In addition, North Korea Freedom Week 2006 organized by Ms. Suzanne Scholte greatly helped to expose to the international community the North Korean regime’s involvement with abducting citizens of Japan and its continuous holding of POWs from the Korean War.

In an effort to protest against the repatriation of North Korean refugees hiding in China to North Korea, Ms. Scholte conducted a campaign to wear rubber bracelets with a slogan of ‘Freedom to North Koreans’ during the 2008 Summer Olympics Games held in Beijing, once again helping to heighten the international awareness of the North Korean human rights issues.

Ms. Suzanne Scholte’s human rights activities are not confined to North Korea and North Korean defectors. From the humanitarian point of view, she has been deeply interested in the plight facing the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara and made a petition to the U.N. General Assembly so that the U.N. could address the issue of the Sahrawi refugees and a referendum on their self-determination, which was an indispensable contribution to helping the world understand the seriousness of the situations facing the Sahrawi people.