Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, appears to have the most selective vision in the history of mankind. He sees all when he wants to see and ignores all when it suits him. An ad mocking his haircut in London reached his attention, yet mass starvation in his own country is invisible to him. Only the most laser focused eyes could detect a joking ad several thousand miles away. If only the North Korean leader could see the struggles of his own people.
A recent UN sponsored report catalogues the extent of political repression caused by Kim’s regime. While he creates havoc on the world stage with his nuclear ambitions, his people suffer. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights has offered up a scathing rebuke of the methods employed by Kim and his followers. Knowledge of the regime’s methods of total control and repression has certainly been widespread around the globe. No act of protest or defiance within the country escapes government attention and harsh punishment. In addition to describing the government’s atrocities in regard to human rights, the report also notes that the government uses food as a weapon of control. Those who are helpful to the regime and its wellbeing have access to food and those who are deemed expendable do not. While starvation due to crop failures in North Korea has been a well-known problem, what has not been so well catalogged is the systematic use of food as a weapon by the regime.
The government uses the “songbun” system to group the population for resource allocation and to enhance Kim Jong Un’s selective vision of the world. This system categorizes family support for his government as hostile, wavering or loyal. Not surprisingly, over 70 percent of the population of the country is in the wavering or hostile group. The country controls where families are allowed to live. Those in and around the capital of Pyongyang enjoy better food, housing and medical treatment. Those in the impoverished northern portion of the country, often do without. Those deemed to be in the hostile group are congregated in the northern section and are forced into hard labor jobs. Breaking free of a disfavored category is nearly an impossible task.
The UN stated that it intends to refer the human rights abuses employed by the North Korean government to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. China, in its capacity as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, responded that it would block any such action. China contends that further engagement and discussion with the rogue regime is necessary to help the situation instead of a potential prosecution of government officials.
No doubt Kim Jong Un employs selective vision as to the abuses suffered by the citizens of his country. He chooses to continue with the songbun system that has served his family well. Unfortunately for him, the rest of the world does not have to follow his mandates and hair salons in London are free to mock him at will. Too bad that no one in North Korea can point out to the emperor that his haircut is out of fashion. Kim has to hear about his bad hair days (or years) from those living elsewhere.