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In the News: Just Because There Aren't Nukes Involved, Doesn't Mean We Shouldn't Care

Joined: 4/23/2013
Posts: 1
North Korea is home to one of the most rigorous dictatorships on the planet. Prison camps that have been around much longer than Nazi or Soviet camps still exist today; an entire family risks being sent there if a single family member speaks out against the state.

All over the country, the people are suffering from hunger, political persecution, and a lack of basic, fundamental freedoms. A shocking result of their restrained trading policy is that food imports are limited; their own domestic agricultural practices do not suffice to provide food for the people.

Some have mustered up the courage to escape. Of those that do, many are shot when discovered, or sent back to work in abominable prison camps. Miraculously, a few lucky citizens have escaped, most likely from swimming in dreadful conditions to China.

The majority that escape such a grim lifestyle are forced into hiding; the Chinese and North Korean government have established agreements that would send identified North Koreans back to their homeland, where they would face execution or torture. Over 80% of women who escape to China have so few methods of generating income that they are forced to turn to prostitution, reminiscent of European women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

What distinguishes North Korea from other countries that are experiencing poverty and hunger?

The media does not help spread awareness about this ongoing human rights crisis. In the news, especially in today’s world, it seems that all anyone ever hears about is the increasing nuclear rhetoric from Kim Jong Un. This is the identity that news coverage has created for the country of North Korea. This is all that the public can focus on, and without effective calls to action that would eventually culminate in substantive action, the North Korean people are left suffering, invisible and silenced to the rest of the world.

North Korea is also one of the few countries left in the world with almost no communication with the outside world. They've created an “information blockade” of sorts; their TV programs, their radio stations, and their internet have been changed to emphasize government propaganda. This means that many people living inside these confining borders are completely unaware of the democratizing effects of liberalism. They are essentially brainwashed to believe that their living conditions are the best on the planet; they have no ability to speak out for themselves.

Never have I been to North or South Korea, nor have I met a North Korean in the flesh. As a policy debater, people talk about North Korea solely in terms of the risk of nuclear war. We speak about these events as if North Korean war were the only scenario of interest, which is an unfortunate trend that ought to be reversed.

As Georgia Byng says, there’s no time like the present. The drastic under-coverage of North Korean human rights abuse is becoming clearer as nuclear rhetoric dominates the news; these people need a voice, a method of empowerment.
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