North Korea: Atrocities
When night falls and the world lights up, there is an area that remains dark amidst the twinkling cities of East Asia, and that place is the hermit kingdom otherwise known as North Korea.
A land of mystery, we keep hearing about it in the news together with its current great leader and laughingstock Kim Jong Un (The Interview, anyone?). But North Korea, despite its failed missile launching and its pathetic attempts at showing force, is not a joke. Its existence is a reality that keeps around twenty-four million people in the grip of fear under a supposedly self-reliant socialist government that is constantly shocking the world.
North Korea became that way after Japan surrendered in World War II and split the country between the Soviets and the Americans. With a military-first policy, North Korea is run by the Worker’s Party of Korea that has left a string of unparalleled human rights violations that has no contemporary in this century.
The home to “some of the world’s most brutalized people” according to the Human Rights Watch, the North Korean population is strictly managed by the state in all aspects of daily life. There are heavy and strict restrictions on freedom of association, expression and movement, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment resulting in death, and executions. Extrajudicial apprehension is common especially if the crime is political and many are deported to labor camps without trial together with their whole family without a chance of being released.
North Korean defectors have spoken out about the violations that happen within the borders where atrocities such as torture, starvation, rape, murder, medical experimentation, forced labor, and forced abortions are favored. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea has given a grave estimate of over ten thousand deaths in North Korean prison camps every year. With testimonies of Holocaust-like conditions, there are reports of children being attacked and eaten by guard dogs, families used in poison gas experiments, and women used as test subjects for deadly poisons, not to mention the use of prisoners as subjects by young doctors for plastic surgery without anesthesia. The department that heads these human experiments is called the Third Bureau, and it sends out a black van, known as the crow, when they run out of test subjects. It arrives once a month and takes forty or fifty people off to an unknown destination, and they never come back.
There has been an international criticism toward North Korea for these atrocities, and many have condemned the country for its disgraceful conduct on the world’s stage. Currently considered “not free” according to the nongovernment organization Freedom House, only time will tell if this totalitarian government will be allowed to continue its brutalization of its own people. But for now, all we can do is watch in horror as the people suffer.
Wikipedia. 2016. “North Korea.” Last modified November 14. Accessed November 16, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea#Human_rights.
Hawkins, Harry. 2014. “Kids at North Korean Camp Were Torn Apart By Guard Dogs.” The Sun, February 26, 2014. Accessed November 16, 2016. https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/629380/kids-at-north-korean-camp-were-torn-apart-by-guard-dogs/.
Wikipedia.2016. “Human Experimentation in North Korea.” Last modified October 9, 2010. Accessed November 16, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_experimentation_in_North_Korea.