The human rights crisis in North Korea

Sidney Grimm

Mrs. Klodor

Honors English 10 Period 5

20 May 2015

The human rights crisis in North Korea

Throughout the Korean War, the country of North Korea was communist. To this day, the communist government still holds control. This dangerous country is filled with innocent citizens. These people are put through many struggles like starvation and torture. Efforts have been made to try and stop North Korea, but the country has kept the same power that it has had since the Korean War. Currently, North Korea is an oppressive dictatorship where human rights are violated every day.

The Korean War was a key factor in exposing the communist regime in North Korea. Many soldiers were sacrificed in trying to stop the flow of communism. About 900 soldiers are still missing, but some say that the number can be as high as 4,500 (Kritsiotis 13). The Korean war unofficially ended on 27 July 1953 with an Armistice Agreement at Panmunjom to mark the end (Kritsiotis 13). To this day, though, North Korea could potentially obtain 14 to 48 nuclear warheads by 2016 (Park 1).

The country of North Korea can be referred to as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) or the Republic of Korea (ROK) (Kritsiotis 13). North Korea is not a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The government’s judiciary is neither transparent nor independent, where the members are appointed by the government. The North Korean government uses fear to prevent dissent (Roth 1). Radio, television, music, and news is all operated by the government (“North Korea: Human Rights Concerns” 1).

The citizens of North Korea face many issues. In the country, there is no right no free speech (“North Korea: Human Rights Concerns” 1). 7,600,000 North Koreans suffer from malnutrition and over 1,000,000 have starved to death (Morris 1). Between 1996 and 1999, over 450,000 North Koreans have starved to death (Kritsiotis 13). North Koreans are also subjected to prison camps, where up to 120,000 are detained (Morris 1). There are multiple ways to get into the prison camps. North Korea practices collective punishment, where the offender and their family is sent to forced labor camps (Roth 1). People accused of political offenses are sent as well. These prison camps are known as gwalliso and are operated by the National Security Agency (Roth 1). 150,000 to 200,000 prisoners are in these prison camps (Mcdonald 1). There, death rates are extremely high (Roth 1). One third of the innocents are children who are forced to slave labor, given starvation rations, and tortured and executed daily (Park 1). Detainees are also subjected to “pigeon torture”. In this form of torture, people have their arms forced behind their backs, are handcuffed, hung in the air tied to a pole, and beaten with a club (Roth 1). Woman are a huge part of targeted victims. There have been 109 confirmed cases of rape and other violence done to women (Kritsiotis 13). A lot of these cases are often done by North Korean senior officers (Morris 1). To add to the rape, “human hunters” camp around the borders of North Korea and catch fleeing women. These women are trafficked to China as sex slaves (Morris 1). Woman who return to the DPRK pregnant are forced to have an abortions as it is assumed that they got pregnant from a foreign man (Morris 1).

Through all of this suffering, there have been attempts to stop North Korea. All 30 articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Right have been violated in North Korea (Morris 1). No U.S. administration has addressed the DPRK’s genocide, either (Park 1). The United Nations put some effort forward and made the Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate certain countries and their violations. This and other international human rights organizations assess North Korea as a category of its own (“North Korea” 1). Resolutions were also made by the UN to try and stop North Korea. A 2005 resolution ended with 88 nations supporting it, 21 voting no, 60 abstaining, and 22 not voting. Then, the UN made another resolution in 2011 where it ended with 123 nations supporting it, 16 voting no, 51 abstaining, and 3 not voting (Park 1). Within 7 years, a significant increase of 50% showed that more countries are willing to support the resolution (Park 1). As well as the United Nations, North Korea’s human rights have been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the European Union. Four different public hearings were held by the COI in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington D.C. with 80 witnesses and experts on North Korea (Kritsiotis 13). In February 2014, the UN published a 400-page account with first-hand testimonies from people in North Korea (Kirby 1). Also on November 18, 2014, the UN voted in favor of a draft to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity (Sanchez 1). Later, on November 27, a resolution was passed condemning the human rights situation in the DPRK (Park 1).

The oppression of the North Korean people have opened the eyes of many other countries. The UN has drafted resolutions and organizations have been made in hopes of relieving the human rights crisis. All of these efforts have had little effect, though. North Korea is still a communist dictatorship and its citizens are suffering.

Works Cited

Kritsiotis. Dino. “North Korea And Starvation: An Ongoing Crime Against Humanity.” Asia-Pacific Journal On Human Rights & The Law 15. ½ (2014): 13-30. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 May 2015.

Marris, Johnny, WP. “The Human Rights Crisis -- EAHRNK.” EAHRNK. WordPress, n.d. Web. 03 May 2015. <>.

Park, Robert. “Shining a Light on North Korea’s Human Rights Crisis.” The Diplomat. N.p., 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 03 May 2015. <>.

Roth, Kenneth. “World Report 2013: North Korea.” World Report 2013. human Rights Watch, n.d. Web. 03 May 2015. <>.

"North Korea: Human Rights Concerns." Amnesty Australia. Amnesty International, 28 Nov. 2006. Web. 19 May 2015. <>.

Mcdonald, Mark. "North Korean Prison Camps Massive and Growing." The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 May 2011. Web. 19 May 2015. <>.

"North Korea." North Korea. Amnesty International UK, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015. <>.

Kirby, Michael, Marzuki Darusman, and Sonja Biserko. "Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." Report of the Commission of Inquiry on HR in the Democratic People S Republic of Korea. United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 19 May 2015. <>.

Sanchez, Ray. "Un Votes against North Korea on Human Rights -" CNN. Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 May 2015. <>.