North Korea & Human Rights

Rick van Opbergen

Put Human Rights First in North Korea
By Kay Seok
North Korea stands at a crossroads. After half a century of rigid isolation and its notoriously failed policy of "self-reliance," this impoverished country has cautiously begun to seek better diplomatic ties and more foreign investment. Now, British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell has been invited to visit this once-hermetically sealed country. Mr Rammell begins historic talks with North Korea in Pyongyang on Sunday.
Nuclear proliferation will be one important focus of Rammell's visit, but the meetings also look set to include another key issue in Mr Rammell's brief: human rights. He is accompanied on his trip by the head of the human rights division at the Foreign Office. North Korea's readiness to receive the delegation is, put simply, extraordinary.
When confronted on its human rights record, the regime of the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il, who has proved a shrewdly capable dictator, has always flatly denied that a problem exists. After Human Rights Watch and others submitted reports on North Korea to the United Nations human rights commission last year, the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) - as North Korea is officially known - responded with a terse English-language statement: "There exists no 'human rights issue' in DPRK as all its people form a big family and live in harmony helping and leading one another...

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North Korea will forever be a bankrupt society while it's neighbours in South Korea will be enjoying the fruits of capitalism and international trade.

I won't speculate on the socialist systems, but I will say that isolation will lead to poverty and poverty will lead to starvation and abuse of the human rights that we have in North America and Europe.

Their government has been absolutely idiotic not to follow the path China took when it opened it's markets to foreign investment thus moving closer to a free market system.

The best and only way North Korea can recover from decades of isolation is to do the inevitable, open up to the rest of the world. Not necessarily conform to Western Culture, but atleast trading with other nations.
Rick van Opbergen
I saw a pretty impressive documentary last week about North Korea - both chilling and fascinating (in a negative meaning). The way how the people - beginning at an early age - are brainwashed, is frightening. One image showed a mother with her child walking to school, signing just normal songs. Suddenly they started singing something like "we have to kill all American dogs" and "our Beloved Leader will protect us", it was so surreal to see. And they also showed a North Korean factory, and the manager said when the workers began that morning "OK, yesterday you didn't do enough, you have to work HARDER and FASTER, or else ...". They even kept the score of all these workers, how they were working and so on. The one thing I thought at that moment was: what will happen to those who do not achieve good enough according to the standards?

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