Skip to comments.The Hidden Horrors of North Korea
Posted on 06/01/2012 12:03:16 PM PDT by Kaslin
While much of the world's attention is focused on the Assad regime's appalling assaults against Syrian citizens, with more than a hundred dead in this week's massacre in Houla alone, another human rights atrocity occurring on a much larger scale garners far less attention.
North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong-Eun, has done what few expected when he assumed power after his father's death last December. Instead of loosening control in the most totalitarian nation in the world, Kim Jong-Eun has actually expanded the number of North Koreans subject to forced labor, torture, starvation and death in the totalitarian nation's prison camps.
The camps, known as kwan-li-so, form a hidden gulag where those accused of crimes against the state are imprisoned. An estimated 200,000 people serve in these camps. The regime imposes sentences, often without even the pretense of a show trial, like those that took place in the Stalinist Soviet Union. Summary executions occur regularly in the camps. Although the sentences may be for ten years or less, most prisoners die in the kwan-li-so before completing their terms.
Prisoners work 12-18 hours a day under inhumane and dangerous conditions in mines, quarries, and factories. Accidents maim and kill many, but more often starvation takes an unimaginable toll. The average prisoner receives only 100-200 grams of food a day -- the equivalent of about one cup of white rice -- with virtually no protein. But even rice, a staple of the Asian diet, is often unavailable. Corn is the usual substitute, which leads to pellagra, a disease that brings on skin lesions, mental confusion and eventually dementia.
But perhaps the most heinous aspect of the camps is that not only are those accused of "crimes" but their entire families imprisoned. The founder of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kim Il-Sung, justified the practice by claiming, "The seed of factionalists or class enemies, whoever they are, must be eliminated through three generations." So, spouses, children, siblings, even elderly parents often serve sentences along with the accused.
Now Kim Jong-Eun, the latest in the Kim dynasty that has ruled the DPRK since 1948, has expanded this barbaric practice. The young Kim has now instructed that both older and younger relatives of anyone caught trying to flee the country will be sent to the kwan-li-so.
Even knowing the horrific consequences, North Koreans will continue to try to leave. Since the devastating famine in the mid-'90s when as many as 2.5 million people starved to death, some 15,000 North Koreans have reached safety in South Korea or third countries.
Many more live secretly in China, where their plight is not much better than in the DPRK. These refugees are under constant threat of being turned over to North Korean authorities by the Chinese government or even being kidnapped and forcibly returned by DPRK agents who cross the border for that purpose.
Yet most people in the West either are unaware of what is going on in North Korea or choose to ignore it. And the U.S. government reserves what little outrage it displays on the rogue nation's nuclear program.
It may become more difficult to avert our gaze, however, as new information leaks out about exactly how bad conditions are in the kwan-li-so. An updated report of the Committee for Human Rights in Korea, "The Hidden Gulag: The Lives and Voices of Those Who Are Sent to the Mountains," now includes eyewitness testimony from 60 former prisoners along with 30 pages of satellite images of the camps.
In addition, a new book focuses attention on the plight of those who have survived the terror of the camps. Blaine Hardin's "Escape from Camp 14" details the life of Shin Dong-hyuk, a young man born in the camp who escaped, but only after turning in his mother and brother, whom he regarded as traitors and rivals for food, and witnessing their execution. But there have been other books that told similar stories -- "The Aquariums of Pyongyang," by former prisoner Kang Chol-hwan, and "The Long Road Home," by Kim Yong -- yet neither provoked sufficient interest and outrage to mobilize Americans to want to do something.
Unless that changes, North Korea will continue to starve, torture, and kill its people while we look the other way.
Now there’s a political marketing slogan:
“Socialism - it’s less fattening!”
Didn’t Jimmah Cottah assure us that N. Korea was a wonderful place? You remember...when he and Clinton funded the N. Korean nuclear program in the ‘90’s with US foreign aid? (But we didn’t have to worry, ‘cause the $ Billions US were ONLY to be used for humanitarian purposes, and the program was overseen by Kofi Annan’s UN, and the Koreans PROMISED to give up their nuclear program in return for the aid? Of course, we later found out that the Koreans had BRIBED the UN inspectors, and used the money to complete their nuclear program. But how could Clinton and Cottah have known, right?)
Another smashing success for liberal foreign policy!
Linda Chavez is complaining about how bad North Korea is. But things were at least that bad in America under George Bush!
Jimmy Carter was going to remove all US troops and nuclear weapons from South Korea by 1982. It’s a good thing that congress and generals forced him to abandon the plan in 1978.
North Korea is leading the world in energy saving!
“Utopia! Now with LESS Calories!
He has correctly learned the most important lesson for long-lived tyrants - first induce overwhelming fear, then everything else is easy.
The North Koreans are admired in the West for their tiny carbon footprint.
I believe that God will ask us why we didn’t help his children living in that hell hole.
Edmund Burke weeps ...
If anyone is interested in learning more about the suffering of North Koreans who have escaped to China please watch the documentary “Seoul Train”. Its available on netflix. Its a powerful film and should be watched by all.
Its high time the western world stopped kissing Chinese arse and got together to give the N. Korean despots a good kicking.
We refused to accept a considerably more modest brand of tyranny from Saddam and in my (ever so humble) opinion the twits running the show in Pyongyang should be next on the end of the rope.
Yeah, the camps off in the woods, and all the people protesting/witnessing the rounding up of neighbors/relatives that were sent there under Bush, to experience starvation, executions, long hours of hard labor.... Somehow I missed the reports by CNN, MSNBC, CBS, etc, and the mass demonstrations, not to mention Barry releasing all the prisoners, er, detainees in a moment that would have sealed Democrat power for the life of the country. Guess he was too busy giving the Medal of Freedom to a fellow Socialist.
Those that make stupid remarks are stuck on stupid. And you know what Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.”
Carry on the good fight!
Funny how Hollywood can go on about Darfur, yet not give a rip about North Korea. People loved “Hunger Games” but NK engages in a similar thing. Shameful.
I personally don’t give a damn about North Korean People, Chinese People or many of these “victims”. At some point in history they supported the despots who convinced them to fight against the USA.
I presume you reserve that same sort of indifference and hatred for the Germans (who supported Hitler) and the Italians (who supported Mussolini), and of course the Japanese who supported Tojo, right?
Ah, another caring soul. Lovely.