The Korean division is now approaching its eighth decade. North Korea has been one of the world’s most secretive societies and is still under nominally communist rule. The country emerged in 1948 amid the chaos of WWII. Its past is dominated by its “Supreme Leader” Kim Il Sung, who shaped political affairs for almost half a century. Now we need to re-shape everything again.
North Korea’s nuclear ambitions have exacerbated its rigidly maintained isolation from the rest of the world. Decades of this rigid state-controlled system have led to stagnation and a leadership dependent on the cult of personality. The totalitarian state also stands accused of systematic human rights abuses. Yet, radio and TV sets in NK are already tuned into government stations which show a stream of propaganda.
The other side of the story, however, is that NK is ridden with poverty, famine and inequality – there isn’t a glimpse of freedom in sight and it’s a kingdom of puppets. High poverty rates of forty percent reign over people’s lives, as the government idly sits by doing nothing to help with it. The country declares that healthcare is free but the residents are denied unless they can pay high prices for the medicine which they cannot afford. There are approximately twenty-four million in poverty, constantly having that burden added onto their already stressful lives.
Kim Jong Un on the other hand lives a luxurious life spending $30 million on bottles alcohol and has a watch that costs another $8.2 million. He certainly seems to be enjoying life.
In NK, people need to calculate their every move, because even a toe out of line could send them to life in jail, labor camps and even death! Death rates at these camps are reported very high. U.S and South Korean officials estimate that between 80,000 and 120,000 people are imprisoned.
The Three Generation Punishment is a vicious consequence, in which if one person does something wrong, not only will they be placed in the lurid labor camps, but also their child and grandchild. The legal system is greatly flawed, just like the political system where elections are falsified to continue the oppressive rule of the Kim family.
How it works is that people can be arrested for not “voting” for them, although beforehand the president is already selected by the government – which is yet another way in which there isn’t any freedom of choice there. A defector, Lee So-yeon, talked about how she felt when she experienced the outside world, saying “I was shocked by freedom — that I didn’t need permission to do anything! I could vote for whomever I wanted.”
In addition to this, there is a serious lack of religious choice or freedom. Everyone is forced into atheism. In 2016 November Mr. Ban was forced into labor for 15 years because he had a Bible with him. It is known that NK also captures tourists if they believe in Christianity because it is “too western.” The reason for this are also that the country’s rulers want to be seen as divine beings, and believe that if people have access to religion they won’t see them like that anymore.
There is something which should also be mentioned, and that is the gross inequality of women in NK. Women are not treated equally by law. They can never be in a higher position than men, and generally will not be taken seriously in the eyes of the law if anything is done to them. This is why 68 percent of defectors are North Korean females.
Phil Robertson, an expert on the matter, says that, “women face severe gender discrimination at work and home, and sexual harassment and violence that the authorities do nothing to stop.” Accounts given by a group of anonymous defectors on the women’s rights situation in NK state that women (specifically) are sexually assaulted a lot and asked for sexual favours, especially on trains when it is dark. If the authorities find out, nothing is done despite the trauma given to the woman.
So what can the UN do to defeat North Korea and their barbaric ways? With the matter at hand, one might assume that there’s a lack of solutions. However, there are options to trigger the downfall of the Kim dynasty.
One is to address its major trading partners and supporters. A country which has been allies with NK since 1950 is China – a main source for its food and energy, as well as maintaining the dynasty. There has been more of a strained relationship between the two countries, yet the sourcing continues. Although in many cases, this aid could tend to the abhorrent situation of mass starvation in a country, the people who are suffering still aren’t helped in NK. Instead, they continue to live like this, struggling every day, even having to buy basic supplies on the notorious North Korean black markets. Though there are sanctions on NK, China keeps doing what they do. We believe that to solve this problem, sanctions should be put on China by various UN countries so that they stop trading or aiding NK.
Another way to stop NK gaining power is to ban their government officials and leaders from countries in the UN. If they step foot in one of the countries, they should be imprisoned. This stops the country’s power buildup, and therefore it will be easier to defeat in the future.
As a last resort only, military intervention should be used. We firmly believe that this should be reserved to Plan B. But, if all else fails, we cannot leave the North Korean citizens to live the lie their government is feeding them – they don’t even get food. The military intervention should be done specifically by South Korea and the U.S as these countries would be most effective in the downfall of the brutal, inhumane Kim dynasty. There is no guarantee that it’ll work, but we hope it does as done in places like.
Collectively, the world needs to make an effort to save the North Koreans. A speech given by a teenage defector was where many realized the truth about how these people feel living in the oppressive nation. The young girl, barely sixteen years old recalled a time when she and her mother were “holding knives, prepared to kill themselves if they were going to be sent back to North Korea.”
These people have been fighting to survive in a land of malfeasance, and it is our duty to save them from it. So in the words of teenage defector Yeomini Park: “North Korea is indescribable. We need to focus on the people who are being forgotten.”