In a delightful case of the pot calling the kettle black, North Korea has released a list of human rights abuses perpetrated by the United States of America. This list is an apparent response to a similar itemization released by the United Nations in February. While the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) makes some valid points, the language is hyperbolic and does not tell the world anything that is not already known about the U.S.
Some of the issues noted are the pervasive racial divide, high unemployment rate, cost of housing, rampant rate of poverty, gun-related crimes, private prison system, government surveillance and self-indulgent government officials. The compilers of this list clearly did their homework, citing real numbers and statistics. The U.S. does struggle with these problems. However, for each of these challenges, there are people not only fighting to fix and/or change them, but who are granted the freedom to do so. Not so in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). They have prison camps for anyone who speaks out about the conditions in their country.
Some of the DPRK human rights violations examined by the U.N. include the withholding of food, implementation of torture and infringement on the freedoms of expression and movement. As well, there are reports of detentions with no justification and disappearances with no explanations. The recent list of human rights abuses provided by North Korea describes the U.S. as Hell. Frankly, the violations incurred by North Korea make life even on Skid Row in Los Angeles look like Heaven.
When N. Korea’s former leader, Kim Jong-il, died in 2011, his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, inherited the reins. At the time, there was much discussion as to whether conditions would improve or not under new leadership. Nearly three years later, it is clear that the only real difference between the two leadership styles is that the son is more media savvy and is actually personable enough to engage in conversation with soldiers and the like.
In a similar report, South Korea has also been appraised by their neighbor to the north. In that document, it is declared that the U.S. has deprived South Korea of “everything.” Apparently, South Korea is a political puppet of the United States and cannot be called a true government. Some of the examples given to prove their point are a high rate of suicide, unemployment, protests that are shutdown and expensive university tuition. An honorable mention went to organizations that help North Koreans defect. These human rights groups are essentially accused of American funded kidnapping.
The tit-for-tat quality to these recent reports from the DPRK are a chilling reminder of what the world is faced with in North Korea. The levels of manipulation and denial would be shocking were it not for the fact that this is a decades old hereditary dictatorship. While his people starve, languish or disappear, Kim Jong-un continues as his father and his father’s father.
North Korea’s list of human rights abuses committed by the U.S. is not incorrect in its’ individual assessments. However, as a whole, the problems in the U.S. do not equate to human rights abuses. This country works hard on its’ flaws and makes great efforts to right wrongs. The same cannot be said for North Korea.
by Stacy Lamy