Inside North Korea PART III: What Do We Do Now?

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il

North Koreans suffered for decades under the oppression of Kim Il-sung until his passing in 1994.  Then an economic collapse, famine, and the continuation of tyranny under Kim Jong-il claimed the lives of up to 2 million North Koreans during the 1990s. What’s happened since then?

North Korea continues to be a prison for its citizenry. Kim Jong-il has relaxed a few restrictions and punishments though other state-sanctioned human rights abuses such as public executions have escalated. Almost all of the U.N. and world food aid has been diverted away from the population most in need. It was probably stockpiled for military purposes or sold by government workers on the black market.  Economic stagnation and malnutrition continue to reverberate throughout the land in what has been called the greatest humanitarian crisis on the planet. As many as 2 million more North Koreans may have died prematurely since the beginning of the new millennium. North Koreans are, with rare exception, completely cut off from the rest of the world, and any incoming access is manipulated by the regime’s robust propaganda operation. The question for the rest of us is: what do we do now?


Inside North Korea PART II: The Creep of Famine

Kim Il-Sung enforced one of the most brutal and repressive forms of communism over his own people for decades, but even during those stifling times, North Koreans were supposed to be properly fed by the state. That was one of communism’s proud assurances.  But at the dawn of the 1990s, things were beginning to spiral out of control in North Korea. Kim Jong-Il was continuing his father’s authoritarian rule, as the early stages of famine crept into plain sight.


Inside North Korea PART I: A History of Oppression and Grief

Mansudae Grand Monument, Pyongyang, North Koreaphoto © 2008 yeowatzup | more info (via: Wylio)


A Kim Il-sung statue. 

When the former Communist President of North Korea Kim Il-sung died in 1994, people fell apart. There was widespread hysteria throughout the land. Many people had heart attacks and strokes; others committed suicide. The death rate skyrocketed in the immediate aftermath, because of the intense nature of people’s grieving. Why would this population mourn a leader who had oppressed and surveilled them so harshly?