It is a well-known fact that North Korea is a horrific place to live.
Now, more North Korean defectors have started to give testimonies about life under the North Korean regime. UPI reports that one of the facts the defectors have shared is that orphaned children have been forced to feed on corn extracted from cow dung, or lice, during the Great Famine.
Lee Wi-Reok, one of the defectors, told Daily NK that his experiences as an orphaned child in North Korea during the late 1990s have continued to haunt him to this day. He stated that certain diseases like tuberculosis were lethal because they did not have a cure. “After I came to South Korea, I was amazed to learn that tuberculosis is a disease that can be treated,” he said.
North Koreans lived in miserable conditions, but according to Lee, orphans dealt with far worse than the rest of the country. “If a cow excreted kernels of corn in the form of diarrhea, we would rinse them out and eat those,” he stated.
Lee also discussed the fact that children would stave off hunger by consuming lice. “When you bite into lice they would burst with blood,” he said. Lee also indicated that the children would eat the lice because they believed it would be a waste to let them go.
The orphanages’ administration officials would “disinfect” children by building a bonfire around them. They would “beat the children with a stick” if they attempted to escape the bonfire.
Of course, the Kim regime has denied its many human rights abuses. They blame the Western world for their troubles. However, most North Koreans seem to understand that they are living in virtual slavery, even if they are not allowed to express this view out loud. It’s one of the reasons so many citizens attempt to escape the despotic regime.
On November 13th, a North Korean soldier risked his life to escape from the oppressive government. The Washington Post reports,
“As the 24-year-old in the Korean demilitarized zone ran from his vehicle, his fellow soldiers came in pursuit, firing more than 40 rounds at him. He was hit at least five times — but clung to life as he kept crawling South. He was found bleeding in a pile of leaves by South Korean soldiers and brought to doctors.”
The soldier is currently receiving medical attention from South Korean doctors, who say he is recovering nicely. So what could push a soldier to risk his life to flee the nation?
The Washington Post states that the North Korean government is supposed to provide its citizens with housing, healthcare, education, and jobs. The reality is that it provides little more than a restricted existence where citizens are given no rights. In essence, everyone living in the country is in prison. It’s the type of slavish existence that communism breeds.
North Korean citizens are not allowed to criticize the government. They live under full surveillance, even from fellow citizens. Individuals are continually encouraged to report illegal activities to the government. A refugee told The Post that youth leaders patrolled their communities, searching for “things that we weren’t supposed to be doing.”
These atrocious conditions might be seen again in North Korea because of the aggressive sanctions that were imposed by the United Nations, United States, and China. Dictator Kim Jon-un’s refusal to abandon his nuclear weapons program has forced the international community to adopt more drastic measures to prevent the rogue nation from becoming a nuclear threat to the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, the complexity of the North Korean problem makes it difficult for the international community to use force to dismantle the Kim regime. The government has maneuvered itself into a position that all but guarantees that they will not be attacked by the United States — or any other nation.
If the sanctions work, Kim Jong-un may give up his nuclear ambition, but this does not mean that the people he is oppressing will fare any better. Hopefully, the Western world and its allies can figure out a solution that will benefit the North Korean people while removing the nuclear threat.