Kim Jong-Un’s Inhumane Legal Regime in North Korea

North Korea which is considered to be the most repressive country in the world has for many years been under the totalitarian rule of Kim Jong Un’s family. The backward and ruthless family claims the root of their rule is derived from the Monolithic Ideology System which was started by Kim ll-Sung. This rule allows the leader of the nation absolute power over its citizens. Inquiry reports by the War Crimes Committee of the International Bar Association state the presence of political prisons where inhuman methods of torture are used. Detailed images that were acquired from the satellites, as well as the testimony which was given by former inmates of such prisons, acted as evidence to prove their establishment and functioning.

The crimes that have been committed upon the prison inmates include Christians being subjected to pitiless punishments with one of the prison guards stating in his testimony that they were told Christians were reactionaries and there should be none left. Owing to their religious sentiments, many have been subjected to the cruel punishment of death. One of the prisoners was raped by an officer after which a wooden stick was put into her vagina; her lower body was then senselessly beaten which eventually resulted in her death within a week.

The victims of rape live in the fear of being killed in case they get pregnant which lead them to induce their abortions on their own. A shocking testimony by an Army nurse proved the barbarous sentiments held by the supporters of such a regime in an incident where she witnessed the abortions of pregnant women by injecting Ravenol into their wombs; thereafter the premature babies born were wrapped in newspaper and kept in a bucket behind detention centers until they were buried. Incidents of hard labor being performed by 9-year-old children have also been recorded.

The most important tool in the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s regime of suppression is the police and security forces, they are responsible for the citizens following the mandated behavior as prescribed by the government. Every movement and word uttered by the North Korean citizens are under the scrutiny of the secret police and informants in the form of citizens. Citizens who are in violation of such rules are subjected to punishments in the form of detention, execution, prison camps, or torture.

Bizarre Laws

There exists in North Korea a discriminatory system known as Songbun. It helps the ruler exercise his rule efficiently over the population. This system is comprised of three major castes and dozens of sub-castes. Socio-Economic standing and Socio-political behavior are the main criteria on which every person is sorted into these castes. The ‘core’ (haeksim) class comprises the most loyal members, the ‘wavering’ (dongyo) class comprises of people whose loyalty is wavering with respect to the regime, the ‘hostile’ (choktae) class is made up of people who are seen as disloyal. The law states that only the elite and wealthy families who are loyal to the regime and the leader shall be allowed to live in the Capital known as Pyongyang.[1]

Capital punishments are rampant in the Country. The crimes that warrant such treatment are treason, drug trafficking, murder, illegally trying to cross the border, and invading state property. The citizens are given a notice when a public execution is to occur. It is mandatory for them to gather at the prescribed venue which is usually market places or sports grounds. [2]

Media freedom in the Country is restricted and in the hands of the government. It has been ranked last by the Reporters without Borders in the World Press Freedom Index. The state media provides the citizens with their dose of entertainment, news, and information which mainly consists of praises for the Government. If a citizen is caught reading, listening, or viewing news that is provided by media which is international, they shall be sent to prison. This throws light on the extent of power that the totalitarian regime exercises upon its subjects especially when it comes to the freedom given to the media. It is near impossible to be able to make an overseas call and if by chance one does come by a Chinese phone on the black market and drives to the Chinese border, state agents along the way would prevent the stint from being successful. The

The country’s elite in the Capital who live easier and more comfortable lives have access to the internet, for the rest, it is restricted. A basic Intranet is what the Country operates on; this as well is restricted and provided to only certain people.[3]

Kim Jong Un’s grandfather Kim ll- Sung’s death anniversary is celebrated on the 8th of July which is a day of mourning for the nation as a whole. On this day the citizens are forbidden from smiling or talking loudly or expressing themselves in any way which is contrary to grieving. There are reports that affirm that citizens who did not grieve enough or properly when Kim ll-Sung had died were sent to labor camps. Voting in most democratic countries is a right given to the people to exercise, but in North Korea, it is more of a mandate which has to be followed by every citizen above the age of 17. Voting is a means by which the Government monitors the population and keeps a track of the people who have defected. Only four channels are broadcast that are under the control of the Government, they comprise of the Korean Central Television, a sports channel, two educational channels, and one that announces state news. Every word uttered on these channels is decided by the government.

There exists the presence of a ‘three generations rule’ which is a sadistic practice whereby a criminal convicted of a crime shall be sentenced to punishment with his whole family as well. Also, the next two generations that will be born shall be bred and complete the existence of their lives behind bars at prison camps or labour camps as well. It is a way of holding the family members guilty by association. Those who try to escape the tyrant and his rule are subjected to horrors unimaginable on getting caught. Driving in the Country is also something regulated and controlled by the oppressive government. It is only the male government officials who own a car or can be licensed to drive, women are not allowed to drive.

Conclusion

It is a life of torture, pain, and grief that is lived by North Koreans in their Country. It is unfathomable that a Country could live in such suppression and fear that too in times where everything is progressing at such rapid speeds. The patriarchy and male dominance is highlighted in most aspects of the way of life especially with the frequent instances of rape committed where most rapists go scot-free owing to their crimes being unreported. Women are forced to undergo abortions or experience sexual assault at prison and labour camps often. The laws are bizarre and highlight the total control that the leader has over his citizens in all aspects of their life.


[1] Report: Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity in North Korean Political Prisons, War Crimes Committee of the International Bar Association, accessed on 13th June 2020.

[2] Report on Human Rights in North Korea 2014, Korean Bar Association, accessed on 13th June 2020.

[3] North Korea’s human rights: What’s not being talked about, BBC News, accessed on 13th June 2020.

Gursimran Kaur from KIIT School of Law

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