Genocide Alerts: North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was established under a Korean Stalinist communist, Kim Il-Sung, in August, 1948. North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950. By October 1950, UN forces had driven the North Korean army back to the border with China. In November 1950, the Chinese army invaded Korea and drove UN forces back to the 38th Parallel. An Armistice Agreement was reached in 1953, effectively ending the Korean War.
Kim Il Sung ruled North Korea until he died in 1994. His communist party ruled North Korea through terror and genocide. In a succession strangely reminiscent of Korean royal dynasties, Kim Il Sung’s son, Kim Jong-Il took power in 1994 and maintained totalitarian communist rule. Now he has died and power has passed to the next in the dynastic line, his son, Kim Jong-Un.
The Kim regimes have committed genocide and political mass killings since the creation of North Korea. Genocide Watch has ample proof that genocide has been committed and mass killing is still underway in North Korea. Our prediction is that when North Korean people eventually rise up against their totalitarian government, which is almost inevitable, North Korea’s powerful million-man army, now armed with nuclear weapons, will be used to crush the revolt. We predict that North Korea could become the worst politicide since World War Two.
North Korea has already committed genocide against citizens who belong to minority racial, religious, political, and national groups. Before Korea was divided in 1948, there were millions of Christians who lived in North Korea. According to Robert Park, the author of “North Korea and the Genocide Convention,” about 30 percent of the population in Pyongyang was Christian before the division.
However, when Kim Il-Sung became the leader of North Korea, the country became the “worst violator of religious freedom in the world” and committed mass killings of Christians (Park, 2011). Hundreds of thousands of Christians were murdered by the regime and many more are still held in prison camps today. Open Doors USA reported that about 200,000 North Koreans are currently held in political prison camps and about 50,000 of them are Christians (Kerby, 2011).
National and racial groups have also been targeted by the North Korean regime. Many North Koreans have fled to China since 1948. Many refugees are women and eighty percent of those who remain in China are forced into prostitution or forced marriages (Park, 2011). China also returns North Korean women to North Korea even if they are married to Chinese citizens. They are usually executed or sent to concentration camps. Women who are impregnated by men who are not North Koreans, often Chinese or Chinese-Korean, are forced into having abortions in order to prevent other national or racial groups from becoming part of the North Korean population. Children who are not fully North Korean are murdered by the North Korean regime.
Widespread politicide has also been committed by the regime. People suspected of holding noncommunist political opinions or who are not ethnically fully North Korean are held in concentration camps or prisons. According to a report released by Amnesty International, most of the political prisoners are held in “Total Control Zones,” from which they will never be able to leave. These zones have grown over the last decade into a vast gulag. Over 200,000 North Koreans are held in these prison camps and a third of them are children (Park, 2011).
According to former guards and heads of these prison camps, prisoners are treated inhumanely by being used for medical experiments as well as exterminated in gas chambers. Children born in the gulag will be slave laborers for life. N.C. Heiken, the director of the film “Kimjongilia,” claims, “this child is being raised as a slave or an animal” (Park, 2011).
Famine, caused by North Korea’s disastrously inefficient food production and distribution system, and also intentionally caused by the state by refusal to distribute food to entire regions has caused millions of deaths from starvation since 1948, especially in the 1980’s. Food shortages continue to be a major reason why North Koreans are dying today. The United Nations World Food Program reports that North Korea is facing the worst food shortage in the world today.
North Korea has a population of 24 million and a quarter of them, 6 million people, are severely suffering from food shortages and malnutrition. The government feeds its million-man army well, and devotes much of it budget to weapons production and nuclear arms development. The government does not spend enough to purchase food for its own citizens. Children are severely mal-nourished. Refugees who have managed to flee from North Korea tell the media that people are starving to death and eating manure when there is nothing else to eat.
North Korea is a serial killer state. To make matters worse, it now has the capacity to commit the ultimate genocide. North Korea has joined the exclusive club of nations with nuclear weapons. Even if other nations wanted to exercise the responsibility to protect North Korea’s people, a nuclear-armed North Korea, backed by China, would render intervention impossible. The border of North Korea is only a few kilometers from Seoul, South Korea, which has become a democracy and an economic power. A North Korean invasion of South Korea would kill millions of people and even result in nuclear war. Six-Party talks have been underway since 2003 with North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, the United States, and Russia but have resulted in no improvements for the human rights of the North Korean people. North Korea has launched missiles several times in the sea near Japan. In March 2010, North Korea was almost certainly responsible for sinking the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy patrol ship, which killed 46 South Korean sailors. North Korea is not only committing mass killings of its own people, but also threatening international peace and security.
How has the North Korean regime been able to get away with mass killings since 1948? The failure of the US, South Korea, and the UN to take effective action to respond to North Korean attacks is one of the main reasons. Irregular six-party talks and sanctions do not seem to have much impact on the North Korean regime. Current sanctions harm North Korean citizens, and not the leaders of the regime. Economic sanctions and suspending food aid for North Korea only starve common people. When North Korea attacked the Cheonan, the United States, South Korea, nor the United Nations took any retaliatory actions that affected the leadership of North Korea. Instead, the United States only expanded its economic sanctions and the United Nations Security Council wasn’t even able to hold North Korea accountable because of the threat of a veto by China.
• The US, UN, and especially South Korea should concentrate on building opposition to North Korea’s regime from inside North Korea. When North Korea’s army tries to crush its own people, we should support revolt inside the army that will finally topple the regime.
• Genocide Watch is convinced that non-violent resistance by North Koreans themselves will finally end the tyranny in North Korea. The example of the success of South Korea under democratic capitalism is a strong magnet, much like the example of the success of Western democracies was for the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
• War with North Korea must be avoided. But we must resolutely speak the truth and empower opposition forces with funding, communications resources, training in non-violent resistance and relentless demands that North Korean leaders stop murdering their own people. Eventually the North Korean people themselves will tear down the wall that now separates them from the free world.


Genocide Watch: North Korea
20 February 2012
North Korea has been a leader in human rights violations since the Korean War when they kidnapped and forced thousands of South Koreans to fight on the side of the North. The civil war, each side backed by a corresponding political superpower, lead to the split of the peninsula along the 38th parallel. Since, North Korea has used fear, torture and propaganda to ensure the loyalty of its citizens to the regime and the Kim family. Atrocities committed by the communist regime include Nazi-like work camps believed to house approximately 500,000 domestic and political prisoners, systematic starvation of non-party citizens and forced abortions. The situation in North Korea is defined as politicide and is in the most severe and deadly stages of the process. In assessing the severity of the politicide in North Korea, Genocide Watch employs The 8 Stages of Genocide by Dr. Gregory Stanton (1998). Stages four and five in the “eight stages of Genocide” (Stanton, 1998) are organization and polarization.

The labor camps in North Korea are an example of polarization. The existence of these camps has been affirmed by Amnesty International with the use of satellites and also by defectors who have confirmed their existence. The people are organized into two groups, those for the communist party and those not explicitly working for the party, those “against” the party are at risk of being imprisoned in the camps. Those who do not work for the party also face the reality of starvation.

The 1990’s was a period known as the “arduous march” in which North Korea’s economy failed and fell into depression and famine. Since that time, the needs of the common people have taken a back seat to those who are members of the communist party and the military. These members are the first and often the last to receive the rations that are provided from foreign humanitarian aid. The final stage of this process is denial. Kim Jong-il has long denied the existence of these prison camps.
More recently, following the death of Kimg Jong- il his son, Kimg Jong –Un, denied allegations of sending people to labor camps for “not mourning enough” according for CNN’s report by Jiyeon Lee and Jethro Mullen.
Despite the fact that this Hermit Kingdom has come under new leadership this year, Kim Jong-un has already made his intentions known as the new “Great Leader” with his increase in military activity along the South Korean border. It is for this reason that North Korea remains at the top of the list of Countries at Risk in 2012, according to Genocide Watch.

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