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Destruction of Human Rights in North Korea: This is Not Love for One’s People.

June 12, 2018

Heads Up: It’s Political!

Following Trump’s summit with Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) dictator, Kim Jong Un, Trump expressed the view that Kim “loves his people.” He said so to journalist, Greta Van Sustren, who called him on it.

One can view the exchange, captured in the Voice of America (VOA) video below in which Van Sustren interviewed Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018, following the summit. Here is the exchange between Trump and Van Sustren beginning at minute 3:42:

DT: He has been a rough person, uh, but, uh, we get along very well. He’s smart, uh, loves his people. He loves his country. He wants a lot of good things, and that’s why he’s doing this.

GVS: But he, he’s starved them. He’s been brutal to them. He still loves his people?

DT: Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done.

 

On February 07, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council released this 372-page report on the state of human rights in DPRK, also known as North Korea.

Below are some excerpts from that UN report.

Due to its length even in excerpted format, I chose to format as its own post this first, extensive set of excerpts regarding background on DPRK and the Kim Dynasty.  Feel free to open and read.

And now, for some of the Commission’s findings on the condition of human existence in DPRK:

(Indoctrination and Suppression of Freedom of Thought)

The population of the DPRK is indoctrinated from a young age in accordance with the single state ideology and the Ten Principles as sustained by the Supreme Leader and the Workers’ Party of Korea to such a degree that it not only infringes on the freedom to seek and receive information as article 19 of the ICCPR and article 17 of the CRC envisage, but it also supresses the emergence and development of free thought and conscience, which is protected by article 18 of the ICCPR and article 14 of the CRC. The Human Rights Committee has commented that the latter right is far-reaching and profound, and encompasses freedom of thought on all matters. The fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be derogated from, even in times of public emergency.

Children are taught to revere and idolize Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and now Kim Jong-un. Plaques with slogans, posters and drawings expressing gratitude to the Supreme Leader are found in kindergartens irrespective of the children’s ability to fully comprehend these messages. In addition to the usual subjects in schools, such as mathematics, science, art and music, an unusually large portion of the school syllabus is dedicated to the instruction about achievements and teachings of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, including the Ten Principles and the DPRK’s official version of its revolutionary history. One former educator in the DPRK suggests that the teachings of ideology based on the writings of and about Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il in fact “constitutes most of the education” in the DPRK. The contents of these teachings are customized to suit the students’ capacity to understand and then memorize them. If the students do not perform well on the subjects of Kim Il-sung’s philosophy and revolutionary history, they may be punished even if they do extremely well in other subjects. These educational goals are contrary to those outlined in article 29 of the CRC. 

There are two basic themes central to the North Korean indoctrination programme. One is to instil utmost loyalty and commitment towards the Supreme Leader. The other is to instil hostility and deep hatred towards Japan, the United States of America (USA), and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The latter objective is pursued with such deliberate and systematic efforts that it clearly amounts to advocacy of national hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, and to propaganda for war, in violation of article 20 of the ICCPR.

Children are taught that they should aspire only to emulate Kim Il-sung. For example, those inclined to drawing are encouraged only to draw pictures of the Supreme Leader or make drawings which might have pleased Kim Il-sung. Good drawings are put up in schools. Typically, they either depict the Kim family or they depict children stabbing Japanese or American soldiers with swords or pencils. …

Children are encouraged to be willing to risk their lives for the values of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, more so than for their own parents. Children are surrounded by patriotic images and slogans projecting Kim Il-sung as a fatherly figure, protecting the nation and providing for its citizens. Such messaging and indoctrination serves not only to create loyalty to the leader from a young age, but effectively works to fracture familial ties as children are expected to display greater respect and commitment towards the Supreme Leader than their own parents. 

All school subjects are taught in a manner compatible with state ideology. For example, one witness described that, when reference was made to a chemical gas in chemistry lessons, a comparison had to be made between how the two Korean governments would use the gas. According to this rhetoric, while the DPRK aimed at industrial development, ROK would use it for tear gas against protestors discontented with the conditions of their lives.

MASS GAMES AND OTHER COMPULSORY MASS PROPAGANDA EVENTS

Children and university students in the DPRK are regularly required to participate in parades, mass rallies and other choreographed performances which serve a political purpose. The largest of these performances is the annual mass gymnastics, today generally referred to as the Mass Games. …

The Mass Games have become a major source of foreign currency revenue for the DPRK. They attract large numbers of tourists, who are often unaware of the human rights violations endured by participating children, who are compelled to participate (unless their physical appearance does not meet the state-determined ideal). Training will often last an entire year, including 4-6 months during which the participants train all day at the expense of their schooling. Training practice is gruelling. Children who do not perfect their performances are subjected to physical punishment and additional evening training. …

In testimony before the Commission’s Tokyo Public Hearing, Ms L described how she missed an entire semester of university education because her class was required to practise for 6 months, 10 hours a day, for a short segment of a parade, to be held in the Kim Il-sung Stadium of Pyongyang in the presence of Kim Jong-il. Training was so intense that some participants fainted from exhaustion. … Ms L recalls that her teachers would invoke the example of a boy of 7 or 8 years of age who had practised through the intense pain of an acute appendicitis. He eventually died because he did not receive timely medical care. The dead child was treated as a hero because he had dedicated his entire life for an event in the presence of Kim Jong-il.

CONFESSION AND CRITICISM SESSIONS

Children in the DPRK are introduced at an early age to “confession and criticism” sessions. Children gather in groups weekly and take turns standing up and describing their activities for the previous week, as far as possible showing how they were living in accordance with the teachings of the Kim philosophy and the Ten Principles. The Principles are recited during the confession. Children must berate themselves if they have failed in some way during the preceding week; such as being absent from class or not having made a contribution as expected. They must then make a commitment to become better. They are also expected to describe the failings of at least one of their peers in the same group. Until they identify someone for criticism, they are not allowed to stand down.

COMPULSORY MEMBERSHIP IN MASS ORGANIZATIONS

All citizens are required to become members of and participate in the activities of mass associations that are under the oversight of the Workers Party of Korea. Membership starts on entry to elementary school. All children aged between 7 and 13 are made members of the Children’s Union. Their activities are overseen by officials of the Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League, which is made up of DPRK citizens aged between 14 and 30. After the age of 30, a citizen becomes a member of the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions, Democratic Women’s Union or the Union of Agricultural Working People depending on one’s employment and marital status. …

Membership of these associations serves several basic functions. One is to organize and monitor the daily activities of the people whether at work or outside of work. Another is to ensure continued indoctrination through regular classes on teachings of the Kim philosophy as well as sharing of information on current and foreign affairs. …

A major activity undertaken by the Youth League is to mobilize its members and administer “volunteer” labour units to carry out public construction works. It is expected that ordinary DPRK citizens, aged from 17 years old onwards, would be mobilized and enlisted into groups to work on various construction projects building roads or public structures. …

Refusing participation in these activities does not appear to be an option as doing so would reduce one’s prospects for social and political mobility and leave a black mark on one’s dossier. In addition to a registration system where all DPRK citizens are issued an identity card which they keep in their possession, there is another record system maintained by the Government with respect to each individual which has direct impact on one’s ability to succeed and advance in society, and which the individual has no right to access.

UBIQUITY OF PROPAGANDA

Citizens in the DPRK are constantly exposed to ubiquitous state propaganda. The Propaganda and Agitation Department within the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea is primarily responsible for generating propaganda directives. In a speech to Party Propagandists in 1981, Kim Jong-il stated, “… solid foundations for propaganda and agitation work have been laid under the single guidance of the Party Central Committee.” Kim Jong-Il provided guidance on how to intensify ideological education as well as propaganda and agitation for the construction of the socialist economy. He spoke of verbal agitation, agitation by artists, effective use of visual aids and officials setting personal examples as different forms of agitation that are powerful and influential. …

In each and every household in the DPRK, there must be at least three framed pictures on display, i.e. one of Kim Il-sung, one of Kim Jong-il and one of the two of them appearing to be in discussion. Kim Jong-un’s picture has not yet been ordered to be displayed. This may be in keeping with the example set by Kim Jong-il. He did not add his own image until the end of the traditional mourning period of three years following his father’s death. It has been widely reported how every DPRK citizen must wear a badge or lapel pin with Kim Il-sungs portrait as a sign of loyalty. Everyone is also expected to bow to these portraits and to always make sure that they are kept in pristine condition. …

One witness described how his father had unintentionally soiled an image of Kim Jong-il printed in a used newspaper which he had used to mop up spilt drink and was consequently sent to a political prison camp (kwanliso). … According to one witness, a staff member of a hospital in North Hamgyong Province was investigated by the State Security Department (SSD) for one month after accidently breaking the glass on a portrait of Kim Il-sung whilst carrying out the mandatory weekly cleaning of it. …

The people of the DPRK are taught from young to revere the Kim family and to internalize the state ideology as their own thoughts and conscience. The Commission finds that throughout the lives of the DPRK citizens, whether at work or outside of it, the activities of citizens are regulated and closely monitored by the state. The individual has no option but to participate in state-directed associations and activities; as otherwise, one’s record would be tainted and opportunity for upward mobility would be impeded. …

(Control of News from the Outside World)

Summing up the impressions that numerous persons who fled the DPRK conveyed to the Commission, one witness emphatically stated :

“You are brainwashed … don’t know the life outside. You are brainwashed from the time you know how to talk, about 4 years of age, from nursery school, brainwashing through education, this happens everywhere in life, society, even at home … North Korea is not open to the outside world, is a fenced world. So nothing should come through that fence. Even listening to the radio, this is restricted to certain channels. They want the people to be blind, deaf to the outside world, so that the people won’t know what is happening.” …

When people buy television sets in the DPRK, they have to register the television with a government authority, the Transmission Surveillance Bureau of the SSD, referred to as Department or Bureau 27. This bureau is responsible for modifying the equipment so that it is able to receive only the approved channel(s) and to block off television channels broadcast from the ROK, China and Russia. The DPRK also deploys sophisticated jamming equipment to block foreign television broadcasts. However, such jamming efforts face limitations considering they are energy-intensive while the DPRK commonly suffers from energy shortages. …

DPRK citizens with some technical knowledge are able to listen to the radio, including foreign broadcasts, while avoiding detection. A skilled technician can substitute the missing components in a recorder such that a nail can be used externally to complete the circuit to allow someone listening to the radio using earphones to appear as if he or she was simply listening to the recorder. Short wave radio broadcasts produced by stations located in or set up by the ROK are also easily accessible with appropriate equipment. Several of these Seoul-based radio stations, some funded by the USA, are run by former DPRK nationals and provide listeners with not only news from outside the DPRK but also news regarding the DPRK and the government’s activities not normally broadcast internally.

(All Media Must be Government Approved)

Ms L testified that she regularly watched ROK (South Korean) movies on a hard disk or CD, but she was very scared of being caught. Some of the vendors were shot to death. She was asked by the municipality to go to one of the executions, but did not do so. The authorities could not force her, because she was out of school and they could not easily locate her. In her home province, there was a special security force that was assigned to crack down on the viewing of South Korean movies. They conducted door to door searches and checked people’s CD players. On some occasions, they waited for the electricity power to come on and then deliberately cut it, so that people could not take out the CD from the player. On one occasion, a friend threw his CD player out of the window, so as not to get caught. Around 2006, one of her sister’s friends, a 31 year old woman and her brother were caught watching South Korean movies and were tortured. She was detained for one month, during which she was deprived of sleep and beaten. She had to write a long apology for days on end. Shortly after her release, Ms L saw the woman and noticed how thin she was. She also heard that the woman’s brother was beaten so badly that he could not walk for a while. …

In 2009, one witness, who was planning to flee the DPRK, was caught while calling from a mobile phone through a localization device employed by the SSD. He was stripped and searched. When the mobile phone was discovered, the agents accused him of espionage and beat him, before detaining him at the SSD Interrogation Detention Centre in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province. In detention, the agents took turns beating him with a piece of wood. He lost his teeth in the lower jaw. The witness managed to escape and was later told by a contact in the SSD that he would have been executed if he had stayed.

Another witness recalled a man being arrested for the use of a Chinese mobile phone and involvement in smuggling activities in 2006. He was interrogated by the SSD and severely tortured, resulting in head injuries and fractured bones. The victim was released without further punishment following the payment of a substantial bribe.

(Suppression of Freedom of Expression)

Among the long list of offenses allegedly committed by Jang Song-thaek, uncle to Kim Jong-un, who was executed in December 2013, was “unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping” when Kim Jong-un was elected vice-chair of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and announced at the Party’s Third Conference.

A witness related to the Commission how he was discouraged since his youth by his parents from aspiring to become a writer as no one could write freely. In the DPRK, one can only write about matters which put Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and the Workers’ Party of Korea in a good light. Writers who write beyond this remit were liable to be arrested and treated as political criminals.

At the Seoul Public Hearing, Mr Jang Hae-sung told the Commission: “My friends, people who used to be writers … [w]e are never allowed to write our ideas, our thoughts … for example, this writer, he slipped when he was talking to someone else. He was drunk at the time, he slipped and he said that writers are never allowed to write their ideas and just by saying that, he was sent to Yodok, Camp No. 15...”

Ms Jeong Jin-hwa during the same session of the Seoul Public Hearing added: “There are lots of people who were taken like that, especially in the media. If you are in the media in North Korea, if you slip, it becomes a political issue. And as Mr. Jang said, we saw a lot of people taken away to the kwanliso, the political camps. So some people, the general criminals go to the correctional camps, but these writers, the people in the media, if they slip just once, they can disappear overnight and their family can be gone overnight, and sometimes, the three generations are wiped [out]. So you see, some people are told that, people think that they deserve it because they turned their backs on the regime. This is what the people think.

I have to stop. This post is becoming too long.

Trump says that Kim “loves his people.”

There is no love for his people in the 2014 UN report.

None.

Only self-serving control enforced by cruelty.

IMG_1106 Kim Jong-Un

_________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

5 Comments
  1. Kim loves his people the way XLV loves his people.

  2. It never stops, high minded anti Trumpism. What if he really will get rid of his nukes?

  3. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Thank you

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