North Korea is retaliating against a list of human rights abuses compiled about its country and policies by the United Nations. The region has put out its own list with a focus on the U.S., which it allegedly states “is a living hell.”
Four months ago, the UN put together a study on North Korea’s violations of human rights. They interviewed 320 people, including some who had survived the political system, notorious for its ferocious attacks on those who do not follow its strict regulations. The conclusion was that the country was committing offences that had no parallel in the rest of the world.
The response from North Korea initially was “indignant anger” along with written retorts in various newspapers in the area. As recently as April, a spokesman for the region reportedly stated that the United States and allies were running a “human rights racket.” After a few weeks, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a piece criticizing Michael Kirby, formerly of the High Court of Australia, who served on the commission body for the report. The paper specifically focussed on Kirby’s open homosexuality, labelling him a “lecher” and calling into question the choice of his appointment, because of his sexual orientation.
However, this attempt to discredit the report was not enough for North Korea, which then decided to launch its own report attacking the US for human rights violations. On Wednesday, the KCNA released an article on the “poor human rights record” of the U.S. The article looked at a number of factors listing unemployment, poverty, racial discrimination and surveillance amongst others. It concluded that the country “is a living hell.”
The criticism is reported to have struck a nerve as many of its points hit close to home. Whilst there is no data cited in the article, some of the features come out as fairly exact. Unemployment is on the rise and like the report states, little has been done to relieve this. The data that relates to US racism can also be found in other existing polls.
In fact, the only point that appears to be truly debatable is the views on gun laws. Although there have been a number of unfortunate shootings of mass numbers of people in recent years, in general homicide is dropping in major cities. Violent gun crimes are also falling. The KCNA stated that the U.S takes the top spot for crimes with guns, but in fact this place is taken by Honduras.
North Korea not only singled out America in its report. They also found that their adjoining nation South Korea has problems with tuition fees, which were deemed to be excessively high. The article suggested that the South would in fact top the list for the worst human rights violators in the world. This was said to be the fault of the U.S. that has deprived the nation to extremes. Fees in the south have risen in recent years, leading to student protests, but compared to other nations they are seen as relatively low.
But how does the U.S. really compare to a place that will not even allow its citizens to choose their own haircut? A place where one’s political opinion is punishable by death, where citizens are watched and spied on and visitors are prohibited from taking photos of that which North Korea wishes to keep from the world? Which nation is the real “living hell?”
By Sara Watson