The Victims of North Korea

Michael Boe, Marketing Manager

It’s hard to avoid hearing about how North Korea is affecting the western world. Unless you possess no access to the outside world whatsoever, it is virtually impossible to have not heard talk about the country. When searching news articles on the topic, you’ll commonly find articles pertaining to the subject of war, as North Korea has been creating and testing its own nuclear warheads. The leader of the country, Kim Jong Un, has threatened the United States, South Korea, and Japan, and has even launched ballistic missiles over the head of Japan. This is all common knowledge; most citizens of the U.S. already know of the threats and dangers of North Korea, however, it is rare that we hear about life inside of the country itself.

Other than the obvious information of a poverty-stricken, horrid dictatorship, we have little knowledge of the common life within the confines of the country. This is not because we refuse to pay attention to it, but simply because we lack the ability to obtain the information. “North Korean leaders are chronically an unknown,” said Master Sergeant Joseph Campbell, Cyber Security and SNCO at USAFA. “Unknown motives, unknown plans/capabilities, unknown isolation.” North Korea is a very mysterious and closed off country, resulting in an inability to access knowledge of the said country. However, there is information given to the public by military intelligence, tourists, and escapees of the country. So what is the daily life in Korea?

North Koreans live under constant fear of execution. Laws are very strict in North Korea, and even simple crimes such as theft, or even watching movies by South Korea can possibly result in execution. Enforcement of laws in North Korea is used by displaying public executions, which everyone over the age of 12 is required to attend. Public executions are beyond gruesome, the victim is put into a position that makes their body fold into itself as they’re shot to death.

Escaping from North Korea is no easy task, and harsh punishment ensues if an escape is attempted. It has been stated by many defectors that, near the borders of the country, North Korean soldiers hide underground and will shoot anyone who tries to escape. This means that in order to escape they must first bribe the guards to not shoot them at the time of their escape, and hope that they keep their promise.

Even after escaping the country, it’s sometimes difficult to stay away from it. Many defectors who make it out of North Korea are sent back. In China, illegal immigrants are not allowed to enter and stay in their country, and if discovered to be defectors, will often be sent back to their country.

Even the soldiers in North Korea are not safe in their own country. “Kim Jong Un appears to the only well-fed citizen in a country of 8 million,” said Campbell. “Defectors have alleged the soldiers are starving and are regularly put on leave to forage for food.” According to Asian Boss, a team dedicated to information regarding North Korea and other Asian countries, citizens and soldiers both eat food given to them by the U.N.

Despite the efforts to help the people of North Korea, the citizens of the country despise the United States. Propaganda surrounds them from an early age, stating that Americans are evil, want to invade their country and kill their people. In a Ted Talk by Hyeonseo Lee, a South Korean who went undercover in North Korea to learn more about the country, she stated that North Korean schools teach little other than hating their enemies, including the United States, South Korea, and Japan.

The people of North Korea have it worse than many would think, and it’s common knowledge that the citizens are living lives of poverty and cruelty. They lead a life dictated by fear of committing even the simplest of crimes, as it would mean almost certain death. It is possible to help though, by donating to organizations dedicated to sending food and necessities to the people of North Korea.