North Korean defector Ji Hyeon-a appeared at a United Nations event titled “The Terrifying Experience of Forcibly Repatriated North Korean Women” on Monday, where she described her own experiences as a woman three times repatriated to the inhuman dictatorship after escaping to China.
Ji made it to South Korea on her fourth escape attempt in 2007 and therefore lived to tell her tale at the United Nations. The third time she was returned to North Korea from China, she was three months pregnant. Her captors forced her to have an abortion without medication.
“My first child passed away without ever seeing the world, without any time for me to apologize,” she said.
Ji explained that North Korea “does not allow for mixed ethnicities,” so they “make women who have become pregnant in China to miscarry by forcing them into harsh labor.”
“At night, we heard pregnant mothers screaming and babies died without ever being able to see their mothers,” she testified.
She was sold as slave labor to a farmer after the second time she was recaptured, a fate that also awaited her sister. She was reunited with most of her family after escaping to South Korea but does not know what became of her father.
Her testimony included horrifying descriptions of detention centers where inmates are forced to eat insects and rats. Their bodies, in turn, were fed to guard dogs after they died of starvation and diarrhea. She described the entire country as a “terrifying prison” and said the Kim regime is “carrying out a vast massacre, and it takes a miracle to survive there.”
Ji called out the Chinese government for its policy of repatriating escaped North Koreans, charging that Chinese officials are well aware of the horrors they face and urging the world community to fight against forced repatriation. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also criticized China for forced repatriation, noting returnees are “routinely subjected to multiple forms of torture and ill-treatment.”
China tried and failed to prevent the United Nations from hearing testimony on human rights abuses in North Korea, supported only by Russia and Bolivia.
“Unsurprisingly, these annual UN discussions are a thorn in China’s side, and compel Beijing to try and defend the indefensible,” observed Human Rights Watch. “At the council today, China once again tried to block the meeting by insisting that the human rights situation in North Korea does not pose a threat to international peace and security. But the bulk of the council disagreed.”
“China also deserves greater scrutiny for its role in supporting the Kim regime and facilitating North Korea’s egregious abuses,” HRW argued:
China has recently intensified its crackdown on North Korean refugees fleeing through China to find protection in a third country. As Ms. Ji described in stark detail, North Korean refugees have been tortured in Chinese detention, but face even worse treatment upon their forced return to North Korea. China should uphold its legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture and the UN Refugee Convention.
Unsurprisingly, North Korea denounced the U.N. event, calling it a “desperate act of the hostile forces which lost the political and military confrontation with the DPRK that has openly risen to the position of nuclear weapon state.”
“If the U.S. and other hostile forces think of browbeating the DPRK by the discussion of ‘human rights issues’ in the Security Council, it is nothing else than a daydream that will not be realized ever,” the North Korean statement declared.
The Daily Caller notes that other defectors have corroborated Ji’s account of North Korean atrocities, including inhumane prison conditions, infanticide, and feeding human remains to guard dogs at prison camps.
The International Bar Association published a report on Tuesday calling upon the International Criminal Court to investigate the Kim regime, including dictator Kim Jong-un himself, for crimes against humanity. The report notes that North Korea’s government has demonstrably violated ten of the eleven crimes against humanity described the founding documents of the International Criminal Court.
“The regime is using that power to develop an unnecessary arsenal and support enormous conventional military forces that pose a grave risk to international peace and security. Their menacing march towards nuclear weapons begins with the oppression and exploitation of ordinary North Korean people,” U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the U.N. Security Council.
“Through the export of workers abroad to earn hard currency and the use of forced labor at home, the regime uses its people to underwrite its nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Haley explained, noting that North Korea’s habit of imprisoning entire families for political offenses gives it plenty of forced labor to sell.
President Donald Trump condemned North Korea’s forced abortions in a November address to South Korea’s General Assembly. He castigated China for supporting the regime that perpetrates such atrocities.
“North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior, and if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered,” Trump said, leveling the same charge that Ji Hyeon-a made on Monday. “One woman’s baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket. The guard said it did not deserve to live because it was impure.”
The United Nations has one more human rights violation to grapple with, and it could be the most difficult one of all for the world community to process: North Korea’s use of its entire human population as hostages to protect the criminal regime against sanctions.
Human Rights Commissioner Zeid pointed out that abuses against the civilian population increased along with strategic tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “Indeed, the context of military tensions seems to have deepened the extremely serious human rights violations endured,” he said.
Zeid also pointed to evidence of widespread disease, malnutrition, and outright starvation in North Korea and advised considering the humanitarian impact of sanctions, including financial sanctions leveled against the Kim regime, which he argued were hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid needed as “literally a lifeline for some 13 million acutely vulnerable individuals.”
That is music to Pyongyang’s ears. It could not be more clear that North Korea’s bestial leadership cares nothing for the livelihood of its civilians – it spends billions on luxuries for the ruling class, weapons for the military, and banned weapons of mass destruction while 13 million people depend on the United Nations for their very survival.
If devastating sanctions against such a regime are impossible because of the suffering they would inflict on captive populations, then the last non-military leverage against outlaw governments will dissolve, and human shields will prove an impregnable defense for heartless tyranny. Few of those human shields can hope to escape after multiple thwarted attempts as Ji Hyeon-a did, her mind seared with horrors that certain U.N. delegations would rather not discuss.