lifestyle

Revealed: 5 absolutely horrifying things that are happening in North Korea right now.

Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.

 Warning: this post contains graphic images.

full UN report into the human rights abuses in North Korea has just been released. And what was contained within the pages of the 372-page document is completely horrifying and almost unbelievable.

The report confirmed the world’s worst fears about the devastating starvation, malnutrition and torture that the people of North Korea have been subjected to under the leadership of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.

Although it borders South Korea and China, North Korea is practically shut off from the world. Only information that’s been approved by the North Korean regime is shared with the rest of the world. Citizens of the country do not have access to the internet and if they talk to the Western media, they risk punishment – (and possible death) for themselves and their families.

So how did the UN get an insight to create their report? A handful of people who have escaped North Korea risked their lives to tell their stories. Here are just 5 of the (very scary) stories they had to tell.

1. Life in a forced labour camp

Location of political prison camps and ordinary camps in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Jee Heon was one of those refugees who made it to China, only to be dragged back and thrown in one of the many forced-labour camps for those who rebel against the regime.

At the hearing, Jee explained that any woman who was pregnant when she arrived back in North Korea was forced to abort their pregnancy (often with rusty instruments, no anaesthetics or very late term) because of the country’s strict rules over racial purity (meaning North Koreans should only have children with North Koreans).

Jee described the one occasion where a woman gave birth in the camp, only to be beaten by the prison guard immediately after birth until she submitted to his orders to drown her newborn baby in the bucket of water. Which she eventually did.

She described the horrifying situation,  saying: “and the mother, with her shaking hands she picked up the baby and she put the baby face down in the water. The baby stopped crying and we saw this water bubble coming out of the mouth of the baby.”

2. Life in an orphanage

The great famines of the 1990s were apparently worsened by state policies that diverted what limited food there was to North Korean citizens who were considered more loyal to the regime. The famines resulted in wide spread starvation and death.

Kim Hyuk was seven years old when his mother died. He was briefly placed in an orphanage but decided to leave when he witnessed 24 of the 75 children within the orphanage die of starvation. He decided becoming a street child would be better than remaining in the orphanage to starve.

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3. Children’s lives at school

Kim Il-sung (posthumous)

Of the personal testimonies given to the UN commission, the reach of the state-sanctioned propaganda and official control over personal lives was clearly apparent.

For example, school children were made to draw only pictures of former leaders Kim Il-sung or images “which might have pleased Kim Il-sung”.

4. The family home

According to the witnesses’ testimonies, not even family homes were an escape from the all-reaching rule. One witness said families risked punishment if portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were not displayed in their homes, and every other North Korean family home.

The same witness also described how his father had been sent to a political prison camp after mopping up a spilled drink with newspaper. The newspaper contained an image of Kim Il-sung.

5. The life of a prison guard within the camps

A former prison guard, whose name was not disclosed, spoke exclusively to Amnesty International about how officials would rape women from the camps and then kill them.

Kim Jong-il

He also described the treatment of the detainees (detainees like the father describe above for mopping up spilled drink with a newspaper). Detainees were apparently forced to walk 20 kilometres to get to the fields where they were expected to work until midnight before making the 20 kilometres return back to the camp.

In terms of executions, he described the two most common methods. “Getting the prisoner to dig their own grave. Afterwards, the prisoner is made to stand before the grave. The prisoner stands there, facing his grave, and is unable to see what’s behind him. The hammer is small. It’s a short metal hammer.”

The second method was more more horrifying. “The prisoner comes into the office and is told to take a seat. Behind the screen, there are two people on standby. Always. They are holding on to what looked to me like a rubber rope. It’s a metre long, just about. If you strike someone with it, it will wrap around their neck. Then you kill them by pulling the rope.”

In response to the UN report, and despite the UN calling for the International Criminal Court to address the issue, North Korea has accused the UN (and Western world) of fabricating stories in order to overthrow the current regime and has refused to accept any of the findings.

This is a gallery of drawings submitted to the UN inquiry by a former prisoner. Warning: these images are graphic in nature and may be distressing to some viewers.

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