The UN Commission of Inquiry into North Korea’s human rights violations described the Kim dynasty’s totalitarian misrule -- which “seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens’ lives and terrorizes them from within” -- as without parallel in the modern world. Crimes committed against innocents strikingly resemble those of the Nazis, specified the commission.
Atrocities perpetrated against guiltless victims within the Kwanliso political prison camps “resemble the horrors of camps that totalitarian states established during the 20th century,” the commission indicated, while “public executions and enforced disappearances to political prison camps serve as the ultimate means to terrorize the population into submission.”
Even many among those fortunate to escape and resettle in South Korea or other countries continue to live in terror. The commission found that “most of the potential witnesses ... were afraid to testify, even on a confidential basis, because they feared for the safety of family members.”
The Kim dynasty represents a ruthless and all-encompassing despotism like no other, with origins unlike any other. Often characterized as one massive concentration camp, the UN-appointed investigation attests the inherent rights many of us take for granted, such as the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of opinion, expression, information and association and freedom of movement -- both within the territory and abroad -- are nonexistent inside the North.
“Surveillance permeates the private lives of all citizens. ... Citizens are punished for any ... expressions of dissent,” it affirmed.
Kim Jong-un and his predecessors utilized “food as a means of control over the population,” prioritizing those deemed useful “over those deemed expendable.”
The Commission of Inquiry pronounced that the domineering Kims had even “failed to feed the ordinary soldiers of its disproportionately large army,” while all resources are “directly controlled by the Supreme Leader.” As the populace conspicuously starved to death, lavish funds were allocated without interruption toward “luxury goods and the advancement of his personality cult.”
Indeed, for those who have suffered at the hands of Kim’s genocidal organization masquerading as a state, the acronym DPRK merely connotes a Nazi-like fascism -- which imperialism begot.
Neither Kim Il-sung nor his progeniture could have ever assumed the helm if democratic processes, rather than division and mutually antagonistic occupation, were permitted from the outset -- that is, if Koreans’ dignity and fundamental rights were respected by those bulldozing, sundering or otherwise laying the groundwork for abhorred edicts behind the native population’s backs.
As Gregory Henderson has noted, communism was extremely unpopular in the North before the Stalinist brand -- which has morphed into the Kim dynasty’s personalized monarchical system of exploitation, with a communistic veneer for foreign consumption, although today it is more akin to fascism than communism -- was coercively imposed upon the people. An October 2016 essay in Foreign Affairs said “personalist dictatorships tend to produce the worst outcomes of any type of political regime,” based on political science research.
During a Jan. 17 conference at Seoul’s National Assembly, former Pyongyang Ambassador Thae Yong-ho stressed that present-day North Korea was “not a communist country but only a slave society based on hereditary succession.”
Attesting to the exasperating fallacies of a compulsorily-split Korea, Henderson noted those in the North were historically more averse to communism than those in the South.
He writes concerning pre-divided Korea -- preceding the installation of the DPRK clique -- in “Divided Nations in a Divided World” (1974): “Korea’s small-minority communism was scattered and, if anything, stronger in the peninsula’s southern cities (Seoul and Daegu) and a few southern rural areas than it was in the north. ... Without outside intervention ... the rifts would have been those normal to many governments; they would not have been likely to generate separatism, and certainly not to force the creation of two states divided along or near the 38th parallel.
“Handled within the framework of one government, such potential conflict would have had far shallower roots and a narrower social base than left-right, communist-democratic divisions in other occupied states, for example, in Austria, where division was ultimately avoided.”
Whatsoever “history” of the North that inexplicably omits or de-emphasizes the central personage of Godang Cho Man-sik (1883-1950) should be handled most vigilantly. Cho, who was assassinated by Kim’s clique on Oct. 18, 1950, was incontrovertibly the most beloved and established political leader within the northern region of the Korean Peninsula prior to and at the time of the division. The Soviets themselves recognized this and sought his assistance, as governance via a “coalition that would include Northern noncommunist nationalist elements” appeared to be inevitable -- given the general dislike for communism among those in the North -- as pointed out in a 2004 book by journalist Bradley Martin.
It is tremendously saddening to contemplate the sheer contradistinction between Cho, who was a bona fide hero, universally esteemed by Koreans and championed Gandhian non-violence, and the immature, ambitious and catastrophically vain Kim Il-sung -- who incessantly resorted to violence and murder, likely because he was incompetent and lacked support.
At a 2014 press conference, Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea Michael Kirby underscored there were “many parallels” between North Korea’s crimes against humanity and those of the Nazis. He highlighted the testimony of a former North Korean prisoner who was tasked with burning the bodies of starvation victims and utilizing the remains as fertilizer.
Kirby said, “When you see that image in your mind of bodies being burned it does bring back memories of the end of World War II, and the horror and the shame and the shock.”
Kim Hye-sook was spirited to a concentration camp together with her family at age 13, and was held captive for 28 years -- because her grandfather had fled to the south during the 1950-53 war.
At a 2015 panel on human rights convened at the UN headquarters in New York she shared her horrific experiences.
“I was taken to prison camp 18 and I was imprisoned there for 28 years, living in a life that is unimaginable, a life that is worse than a dog’s.”
“In this prison we were divided into three per group and we were supposed to monitor each other and write up a detailed report of what the other person has done for the instructor,” Kim revealed.
“If we were not able to do that for different reasons, whether sick or unable to write because we had injured our hands, then they would tear our mouth with plyers or handcuff us until we lost circulation. We were beaten, we were tortured,” she said.
“In this prison camp, especially in the coal mines, you have to be absolutely submissive to (do) anything that was asked of us. If you asked questions about why you were there, you were immediately executed publicly. I have seen and was a witness to multiple executions in this prison. And after Kim II-sung died, and Kim Jong-il came to power, there was an incident (when the regime) sent people who were loyal to Kim Il-sung to prison camps. They were high level officials asking why they were taken to prison camps. If they asked, they were executed immediately.”
The time is now to halt the atrocities perpetrated against our people -- who are entitled to protection under the ROK constitution and international law -- in North Korea. Where none are safe from arbitrary arrest, torture and execution -- extending a conditional amnesty for the deposing of Kim Jong-un and the verifiable freeing of political prisoners would be a well-informed modus operandi.By Robert Park
Robert Park is a founding member of the nonpartisan Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, minister, musician and former prisoner of conscience. He can be reached at email@example.com. -- Ed.