The Nightmare of Living in North Korea

north-korea-missileNorth Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) has the misfortune of carrying out a litany of alleged unspeakable atrocities that are a heavy work on citizens, immigrants, as well as foreigners. In fact, quite a number of crimes committed in the country invoke memories of the Nazis. The country is a Juche socialist state and its present leader is Kim Jong-Un, a high handed and totalitarian leader. By 1945, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two distinct zones by the 38th parallel, a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees North of the Equatorial plane. While the Southern half was occupied by the United States, the Northern half was occupied by the Soviet Union. North Korea was thus created under the direct aegis and efforts of Soviet Russian advisers. Consequently, North Korea was more or less a puppet state of Soviet Russia. In North Korea, the military takes the primary position in the government circles as well as the society. In addition, it is the military that guides both domestic and foreign policy.

Having said that, there are a number of areas that the North Korean regime has explicitly and implicitly depicted cruelty. To start with, the prison conditions in the country are deplorable and life threatening. There is widespread public and private execution of prisoners more so when they attempt suicide or try to escape The high rate of starvation among the prison camps is due to illnesses, torture, starvation, and accidents. According to Logie (2012), there is a high level of cruelty that is inherent in North Korea’s security apparatus. This does not stop in prisons. Rather, it is done systematically and includes cover up procedures. Since the regime almost always flatly denies cruelty in prison camps, such information is collected from survivors of such treatment. In addition, the government does not allow human rights groups to access its prison facilities.

In connection to this, the regime has various internment camps for political prisoners which are scattered across central and northeastern North Korea. The camps are completely isolated from outside contact.

camps for political prisoners

In the camps, there is hard labor using uncivilized methods of mining and agriculture. Due to small food rations, starvation is a leading cause of deaths in the camps. It is not uncommon to find prisoners crippled due to accidents, torture, and frostbite. The camps administration administers a rigid punishment system which has little regard to human rights. There exists reeducation camps that are operated by the interior ministry. These are large prisons buildings that are surrounded by high walls. People in such reeducation camps are forced to memorize texts that support North Korean leadership and are given ideological instructions. about the supremacy of the regime.

Second, there is rampant persecution of Christians and Buddhists. It is not uncommon to find people sent to prison camps or subjected to inhumane treatment, all because of their faith. In some cases, there is public execution of such people. For example, Ri Hyon-ok was a victim of public execution in Ryonqchon. This took place on June 16, 2009 after she was found giving out bibles. Beginning 1949 to mid 1950s, the government closed all the churches, executed most non-foreign Catholic priests, forced Protestant leaders to renounce their faith, and destroyed most Buddhists temples. This constantly suppressed the practice of various faiths. In some cases, people were could only hold secret meetings. The administration of Kim Jong-Un is still aggressive to faith groups. Such groups carrying out clandestine religious activities may face detention, disappearance, torture, arrest, or public execution.


Third, food is a controversial and highly politicized topic in North Korea. There is all the probability that the biting food shortages that hate North Korea in 1990s were man made. This is because the government neither embarked on a multilateral assistance campaign or maintain importation of food on commercial terms. On the contrary, North Korea became aggressive to a humanitarian response to the crisis and continued to expand its military. While the famine has long passed, North Korea is still not food sufficient. Malnutrition and stunted growth is common and the country still relies on humanitarian aid.

Fouth, laborers in North Korea work in cruel and inhuman conditions. North Korea is not a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Consequently, this denies the citizens an opportunity to have an objective party checking on the country’s labor standards and preparing reports that cover a country’s labor conditions. In addition, the workers do not have a right to collective bargaining and are devoid of protection from sexual harassment and gender based discrimination.

laborers in North Korea

Fifth, North Korea, just like other states, has an obligation to protect and preserve the rights of people with disability. However, the situation on the ground is far from the ideal. Cruel as it may sound, there has been reports that children born with disability are killed and buried by North Korean health practitioners. Other reports say that people with disability are sent to special camps. The only exception concerns the wounded soldiers. This group is treated well and it has a preferential treatment from the government. The regime uses this group to advance its propaganda against the United States by saying that the soldiers were wounded due to American aggression in North Korea.

Sixth, there are numerous international kidnappings carried out by the North Korean regime. There was no peace treaty that was signed between North Korea and South Korea (Alton et al, 2013). In other words, both countries are technically at war. Consequently, reports of South Koreans being abducted by North Korea. This mostly affects those staying near the borders including. It also include kidnappings arising from maritime conflict such as fishing territories and fishing rights. Foreigners visiting North Korea have also been kidnapped.

See more: The photos North Korea didn’t want you to see

Lastly, North Korea does not respect the rights of the minorities. The country is one of the most ethnically homogeneous states with very minimal immigration. By implication, the small group of minority group is discriminated by the rest of the society. In addition, the returnees (mostly after the end of conflicts) are not always accepted by the rest of the society. In this regard, foreigners who stay in North Korea are excluded from entering some places.

In conclusion, the international community cannot stand and watch as North Korea carries out unimaginable cruelty on its subjects. While, international law has always shied away from interfering in internal matters of states, continuation of such cruelty will continue to bite the world’s consciousness. Consequently, history will judge the international community harshly if the cruelty of such magnitude continues unabated.


Alton, D., Chidley, R., & Cox, C. (2013). Building bridges. Is there hope for North Korea?
Oxford: Lions Books. Logie, A. (2012). The Answers. North Korea: How do you solve a problem like North Korea. London: Routledge.

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