Amnesty International Korea (AI Korea) held its first organizational meeting on the 28th of  March, 1972. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s AI Korea took part in actions for the release of prisoners of conscience, ending torture, and the abolition of the death penalty. AI Korea was forced to close down twice during the years of dictatorial rule. Follwing this, in 1992, AI Korea resumed activity with the help of its members and has continued since then without pause. AI Korea has been working for human rights for 37 years and counting. We now have over twelve thousand members in Korea.


1972 ~ Amnesty International Korea held the first meeting at Seoul YMCA

1973 ~ Launched campaign against torture

1977 ~ Gwangju and Jeonju sections organized

1978 ~ Launched campaign to abolish the death penalty

1979 ~ Incheon and Pusan sections organized

1985 ~ Held extraordinary general meeting and decided to dissolve AI Korea section.

1993 ~ Held the first general meeting

1997 ~ 1st Amnesty International Press Awards

2004 ~ Amnesty International Korea moved to Seoul

2005 ~ Registered as a corporation aggregate

2007 ~ Held “1st Candle Evening”  (fundraising dinner)

2008 ~ Steve Barakatt performs his tribute to AI Korea, The Beating Of Butterfly’s Wing in Seoul

2009 ~ Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s General Secretariat, visits Korea

2010 ~ Amnesty Korea co-hosts a discussion with murder victims’ families on the death penalty


Amnesty International’s movement for the realization of human rights has been achieved by our members activity. Amnesty International Korea has about ten thousand members who have participate in the global human rights movement. Our members take action for human rights as individuals and in group. All of us participate in writing letter and campaign work to speak out against human rights violations taking place around the world. We also work hard to shed light on ongoing human rights abuses and bring these to the attention of the international community by constant investigation. AI Korea members support human rights activism and activist all over the world. Members also have to the right to vote and make decisions on policy.


Mr Sung Jae-sang started an Amnestry group in December 2002, mostly for foreigners residing in Korea. At that time, Amnesty International Korea Section didn’t have any group mostly for foreigners among its 20 or so groups, so this was the first aimed at English speakers. His motivation was to work for human rights in Korea and meet people from different countries. Under Section rules, a minimum of five persons could register an Amnesty group, and the group had difficulty attracting enough members in the initial stages, existing for the next two and a half years as a provisional group.

At the beginning, group meetings were held in Mr Sung’s office. These were attended by  5  to 10 people, and during this time Mr Sung felt “lucky to meet many foreigners of different nationality during more than two years of my service.” In many ways, Mr. Sung worked hard to keep the group afloat, even paying membership fees for group members and taking members out to dinner after meetings.

Group activities in the first few years included letter writing to foreign governments about their human rights violations, staging street campaignes and signature-collection against Korea’s Draconian ‘National Security Law’, campaigning against violence against women and the death penalty, and visits to Sharing House and orphanages.

After two and half years of service,  Mr. Sung transfered his responsibilities to the young and bright Ms. Cho Eun-mi. Soon after, this group registered officially as Group 48 of the Amnesty International Korea Section.

After Ms. Cho Eun-mi stepped down to take on other human rights projects,  there were a series of coordinators who kept the group running including Paul Jennings from New Zealand, Henry Vapual from Myanmar and Wendy Veronie from the USA. Under Henry’s tutelage, Tom Rainey-Smith from New Zealand became the new G48 coordiantor in October of 2007 and currently still acts as a coordinator for the group. He was joined in 2009 by Thency Gunasekaran who helps coordinate the group as one of her many contributions to human rights.



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