The United States has cracked the whip on North Korea by summoning leaders, including prime accused – Kim Jong Un, for human rights violations. Though no immediate action has be taken to bring the law down on those accused of crimes on an international level, it does take a step in the right direction to prevent the country from continuing their wrongdoing.
Earlier in May, an American citizen of South Korean origin, Kim Dong Chul was sentenced to 10 years of hard labour in a North Korean prison for “offences in a scheme to overthrow the socialist system of the DPRK”. It can be remembered that in March, a student by the name of Otto Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour at one of the country’s most notorious prison camps after he was caught on tape removing a government propaganda poster from a wall in the hotel he was staying at.
With regard to Kim Dong Chul, he spoke with a CNN representative at the time, stating: “They asked me to help destroy the system and spread propaganda against the government” – referencing that he was working on behalf of South Korean conservatives against North Korea. It could not be determined if he was speaking under duress or confessing to crimes to aid his defence and reduce his sentencing.
With regard to the charges being put against North Korean leaders and other important officials who were named for the multiple crimes of human rights violations, United Nations Ambassador, Samantha Power said: “These efforts send a clear message – not just to the senior leaders, but also prison camp managers and guards, censors, secret police, interrogators and persecutors of defectors – the world is documenting your abuses, and they will not be forgotten.”
So, what are the accusations exactly? According to 2014 documents from the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, North Korea has been accused of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, beatings, forced starvation, sexual assault, forced labour and torture, among other more serious crimes. The country is also known for its prison camps, where men women and children, totally numbered to more than 120,000, are kept. Sometimes children are forced to pay the price for alleged crimes committed by their ancestry and forced into a life of starvation, long hours of work and not even basic human necessities being met.