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Human Rights Research Paper

I.

Introduction

An escapee from the Jagang Province of North Korea told his story as testimony to the Database
Center for North Korean Human Rights: When my father was charged with 'revolting with words' [antistate remarks], our entire family was sent to a political prison camp, and although I was of school age I
was unable to attend. Because we were poor, I had no choice but to go to the mountains and survive on
tree bark and roots. It was, of course, impossible for me to study.1 So many people take for granted the
rights and privileges that are given to them and protected. While some may not always think about it,
phones, the internet, devices, social media, etc. are all rights privileges. North Korea is a prime example
of a country that does not have the same protections and rights that America has. According to the
Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Council stated in a report that North Koreas
human rights abuses are without parallel to any other country in the world with murder, enslavement,
torture, imprisonment, rape, prison camps, and forced abortions.2 North Korea has a very tightly
controlled media, radios, tv, reports, news, etc. All meda from the rest of the world is censored to include
or disclude information. Over 80 defectors that escaped from North Korea testified to investigate rights
abuses in North Korea to a UN commission; one, Kim Gwang-il drew gruesome sketches of the abuses,
which included imprisonment and torture.3
North Korea does not protect or address the freedom of expression. One of the most surprising
and violating laws of North Korea mandates a three generations of punishment policy, also known as
1 "News North Korea's Socially Vulnerable Classes Face Especially Dire Conditions." Unification Media Group.
2 "World Report 2015: North Korea." Human Rights Watch. N.p., 09 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
3 "Humanity at its very worst; North Korea." The Economist 22 Feb. 2014: 33(US). Student Resources in Context. Web. 23
Feb. 2016.

guilt-by-association system. This means that when a crime is committed by a person, his/her children
and grandchildren will be punished as well. A common way of enforcing this is forcing families to live
in labor and prison camps.4

II.

Historical Background

Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders cited Kim Jong-il (The leader of North Korea
until 2011) as a "predator of press freedom"5. This is supported by the fact that the internet is not widely
available in North Korea. Only small group of elites can use what we would call the internet. The more
widely used form of the Internet is called the Intranet; those who use it can access limited media articles
and reports that have been altered and/or censored. Calls in North Korea are limited to in-country calls
(no overseas calls) and are heavily censored. North Korean government have created Facebook pages,
Youtube, etc. to praise the government and its leaders. In 2014 the Commission of Inquiry (established
by United Nations Human Rights Council) questioned the North Korean government about the claims
brought up about it, which included prison camps, torture, persecution, rape, abortions, etc. However,
North Korea denied the accusations of the existence of its prison camps. It did not allow the commission
to come into the country to investigate.6 The North Korean ambassador said that the commission was ''an
instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image''
of North Korea. He also claimed that a report written by an Indonesian lawyer about abuses was fake
material.7
4 "10 Brutal North Korean Secrets - Listverse." Listverse. 2013. Accessed May 04, 2016.
5 "North Korea's Tightly Controlled Media." BBC News. Accessed May 03, 2016.
6 Erlanger, Steven. "U.N. Panel to Investigate Human Rights Abuses in North Korea." New York Times 22 Mar. 2013:
NA(L). Student Resources in Context. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

7 Ibid

III.

Modern Day Responses

As stated in the United States Declaration of Independence Article 19, the freedom of expression is a
right that every human being has: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information
and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Each of us may speak or write our own
opinions without the fear of being punished for it. South Africa openly allows freedom of speech and
media with the only restriction preventing encouragement for war, intentions of violence/harm, and
prejudice against race, gender, religion, etc. India allows freedom of expression to certain extents,
including critique against the government.8 The Japanese constitution promises the freedom of speech
and press in Chapter III Article 21.9 Finally, the South Korean constitution guarantees freedom of
expression, with restrictions such as favor toward communism and, of course, North Korea. 10
As this can show, many countries around the world have their own limits of freedom of speech and
expression, many with a constitution to uphold it. This does not mean to imply that any country has
absolute and/or perfect laws to allow this, but there are certainly better conditions than what is currently
the situation in North Korea. In 2004, the US government passed the North Korean Human Rights Act.
This states that refugees can become citizens in the United States.11 Although, most defectors go to
South Korea, where they are already considered citizens. The US has issued sanctions on North Korea
that focus defense, security, and nuclear activities. Although it has not done much to improve conditions,

8 "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996." Welcome to the Official South African Government Online Site!
9 "THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN." THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN. Accessed May 04, 2016.
10 "ICL - South Korea - Constitution." ICL - South Korea - Constitution. Accessed May 04, 2016.
11 "Implementation of the North Korean Human Rights Act." U.S. Department of State. 2011. Accessed May 04, 2016.

most countries have called out North Korea on its human rights abuses. Both the US and Japan have put
into place laws that bring this to the attention of the public. However, there is more than can still be done
to help the people in North Korea.

IV.

Conclusion: Recommendations

What North Korea needs the most is a democratic government. Their current system of having of leader
is that of a dictatorship: a supreme leader that is not elected by the people, but whose power is passed
through a family. Awareness of the situation in North Korea needs to be made, both to the people of
North Korea and the rest of the world.
A conclusion that a lot of of people would make would be assuming that ridding the country of
the current leader will eliminate the horrible rights abuses. This is incorrect because another leader
would just take his place. There are several ways in which other governments and their citizens can
work to ameliorate the conditions in North Korea There are two reasonable and rational
recommendations for how America as a nation and other countries can help the situation in North Korea:
One, other governments should participate to help refugees/defectors coming out of North Korea. Those
who are lucky to escape (about 10,500 since 2010) have suffered horribly from rape, torture,
imprisonment, lack of education, poverty, guilt-by-association, starvation, etc. While it would most
likely spark a war to enter North Korea without approval, it is perfectly reasonable to allow defectors
into other countries.
The people of North Korea should be supplied devices like phones, computers, radios, flash
drives, etc. that would allow them to communicate outside the country. The general population has little
association with the outside world. By smuggling these in, the current regime will slowly crumble, as
the government will become less legitimate and powerful. By weakening the government in this nonviolent way, the chances of a new, more credible government to replace it is higher. One day, if effective

policies go into effect that will help the situation in North Korea, its citizens will not have to suffer with
these human rights abuses.

Works Cited

"Accountability in North Korea." New York Times 24 Apr. 2014. Global Issues In Context. Web. 11 Feb.
2016.
Erlanger, Steven. "U.N. Panel to Investigate Human Rights Abuses in North Korea." New York Times 22
Mar. 2013: NA(L). Student Resources in Context. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
"North Korea Also a Severe Threat to Its Own People, Report Says ; 'Failure to Protect' Against Human
Rights Abuses Warrants Security Council Action." US Newswire 30 Oct. 2006. Student Resources in
Context. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
"World Report 2015: North Korea." Human Rights Watch. N.p., 09 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
"Humanity at its very worst; North Korea." The Economist 22 Feb. 2014: 33(US). Student Resources in
Context. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
"North Korea's New Tactic: Discredit Those Who Report Human-Rights Abuses." YaleGlobal Online
(2015). Student Resources in Context. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.
"News North Korea's Socially Vulnerable Classes Face Especially Dire Conditions." Unification Media
Group.
"THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN." THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN. Accessed May 04, 2016.
"Implementation of the North Korean Human Rights Act." U.S. Department of State. 2011. Accessed
May 04, 2016.
"10 Brutal North Korean Secrets - Listverse." Listverse. 2013. Accessed May 04, 2016.

"Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996." Welcome to the Official South African
Government Online Site!
"ICL - South Korea - Constitution." ICL - South Korea - Constitution. Accessed May 04, 2016.