The Plight of North Koreans and Their Right to Life

November 5, 2011

Political Theory


 North Korea – it is a xenophobic, last-standing Stalinist State not many people know about.  A dictator named Kim Jong Il rules and dominates the entire country with his ideologies, and the people of North Korea are constantly dehumanized, mistreated, and strippped of even the most basic human right to life.  Although we hardly get to learn about this “hermit kingdom”,  it is the ordinary North Koreans that we don’t hear about who are really suffering and in need of most help.  They have to live through these oppression on a daily basis due to the inhumane backings of the fellow Communist government of China and the neglect of its own people by its own government.

Map of North Korea

Map of North Korea

Ever since the fall of Soviet Union and the instances of several State-wide famines, food has become very scare and expensive for the ordinary people to afford.  Starvation and malnutrition has now become the biggest causes of death in the country.  The North Koreans flee across the Duman River and escape into China in hopes of attaining one more meal and a second chance at life.  However, since leaving the country is strictly forbidden and seen as a trator to the Kim regime, the ones who are caught face torture, beatings, and forced abortions in concentration camps or even execution in some cases.

Kim Jong Il and Hu Jintao

Kim Jong Il and Hu Jintao

In addition, China wants to keep its economic ties with North Korea, but at the same time wishes to demonstrate that they have the upper hand and can manipulate the North Korean government at their will.  In the beginning of the famines, China opened up and accepted the refugees, but have since turned harsh.  Rather than grant the defectors refugee status, they simply label them as “economic migrants” and forcibly repatriates them back to North Korea, blatently aware of the consequences they will have to deal with once they are sent back.  Also, the Chinese government has now targets human rights activitists and have made it a crime as well to house or provide any sort of aidto the North Korean defectors. 

Lastly, after seeing the starvation and wretched poverty of the ordinary citizens, Word Food Programme, along with the help of other nations, have started to provide international food aid to the country.  Unfortunately, the government takes full advantage of this; the WFP workers are not allowed to find out where the food goes or be in charge of the distribution.  In reality, most of the food goes to the already wealthy and privileged class and gets sold on the black market to fund projects such as the nuclear weapons program.  The food never makes to the people that it was actually intended for.
North Korean flag

North Korean flag

In order to acquire the freedom and life they deserve, the North Koreans have to make the trecherous journey through China and constantly live in fear of being discovered and being repatriated.  Every time China sends back a refugee, they are violating the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol as well as the Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The people of North Korea have to continue to be punished and suffer while even their own government completely neglects them and does nothing to alleviate the situation.  Should this be possible?  What can we do when our government blatently disregards our own well-being and rights and precludes us from attaining them?

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