The hearings will begin Tuesday on the campus of Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, the United Nations said in a statement.
Michael Kirby, the panel's chairman, said some 30 witnesses are expected to testify about issues including the right to food, torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance in the reclusive communist nation.
Kirby said the panel wants to determine what violations have been committed and who is responsible for them.
The panel's findings will be presented to the U.S. Human Rights Council in Geneva in September and the General Assembly in New York in October. A final report will be submitted to the council in March 2014.
Kirby, a retired Australian judge, will be joined on the panel by Sonja Biserko, founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, and Marzuki Darusman, former attorney general of Indonesia.